The ruling party's Felipe Calderon won the official count in Mexico's disputed presidential race Thursday, the culmination of a come-from-behind campaign for the stiff technocrat. But his leftist rival also declared victory and said he'd fight the election in court.
Calderon was already reaching out to other parties to build a "unity government," while his rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, blamed fraud for his narrow loss in the vote count and called on his supporters to fill Mexico City's main square Saturday in a show of force.
With the 41 million votes counted, Calderon of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party had 35.88 percent, or 14,981,268 votes, to 14,745,262, or 35.31 percent, for Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party. The two were separated by 0.57 percent, or 236,006 votes, reports AP.
Roberto Madrazo, whose Institutional Revolutionary Party controlled Mexico for 71 years until Fox's victory in 2000, had 22.27 percent, and two minor candidates split the rest.
Once the count is complete, challenges go before the country's top electoral court. A winner must be declared by Sept. 6. The next president begins a single, six-year term on Dec. 1, informs FOX News.
When Calderon was judged to have won a preliminary count earlier this week, Lopez Obrador cried foul and protests broke out in the capital.
Lopez Obrador pledged to help Mexico's poor with welfare benefits and ambitious infrastructure projects to create jobs.
He won wide support in Mexico City but his spending policies worried investors, business leaders and many middle-class families. He also failed to make major inroads in traditionally conservative northern Mexico, reports Reuters.