Former leftist presidential drops battle to be real president

Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has given up efforts to have himself declared winner of the July 2 presidential race, but he still plans to build a parallel government that will cater to the poor and keep alive his fight against President-elect Felipe Calderon, his party spokesman said Friday.

Since Mexico's top electoral court rejected Lopez Obrador's allegations of widespread fraud, he has focused on a Sept. 16 convention in which supporters will declare him the leader of resistance government that will refuse to recognize Calderon and block him at every step, including his Dec. 1 inauguration.

"We are not going to let him take office," said Gerardo Fernandez, the spokesman for Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD. "I don't see the usurper government ... lasting for six years."

Fernandez said the parallel government will fight for recognition in international forums and launch street protests against free trade reforms and privatizations of government enterprises. It will also set up a still-unspecified capital, form a Cabinet and set policy.

Some followers have urged Lopez Obrador to set up a treasury and have followers pay taxes to him, but Fernandez said there were no plans to do that, apparently to avoid legal problems, reports AP.

Lopez Obrador plans his own inauguration, complete with a presidential sash presented by his supporters. He has warned followers that such moves may draw ridicule, telling them: "They will make fun of us."

He has also drawn criticism for comparing himself to national heroes like Benito Juarez, who lead a parallel government during the 1862-67 French invasion.

Though the French-backed Emperor Maximilian controlled the country, Juarez maintained a wandering resistance government until his forces were able to expel the invaders.

Many see the comparison as ridiculous because Calderon won what most observers called a fair election.

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