Mexican president might pardon opposition presidential contender, allowing him to run for office next year

President Vicente Fox is considering a pardon for Mexico City's impeached mayor if he is convicted of defying a court order - an action that would allow the mayor, a leading presidential contender, to compete in next year's election, Fox's spokesman said Thursday.

"It's a possibility like others," Agustin Gutierrez Canet said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Gutierrez said Fox's administration is concerned that many Mexicans believe allegations that the president is behind the prosecution of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the left-leaning Mexico City mayor who has led all recent presidential preference polls in advance of next year's elections.

Gutierrez said a pardon would show that "there is not a political intention in a judicial process."

Congress recently stripped Lopez Obrador of his immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for his arrest on charges that he failed to heed a court order to stop construction on contested private land.

Lopez Obrador left his interior secretary temporarily in charge while he awaits his arrest.

Assiciated Press

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