January 29, 2018 / 7:35 PM / 4 months ago

Mexico front-runner pledges to do away with presidential immunity

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The leftist front-runner for Mexico’s 2018 presidential election on Monday said he would propose reforms to allow a sitting president to be charged with corruption and electoral crimes.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, presidential pre-candidate of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), waves as he leaves an event during which he unveiled his anti-corruption plan he will put in place if he wins this year's election, in Mexico City, Mexico January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who leads polls ahead of the July 1 election, spoke at an event in the capital to present his planned nominees for top prosecutorial posts.

“We will propose a legal reform to suppress immunity and privileges,” Lopez Obrador said, including changing the constitution to allow the president to be judged for “the crimes of corruption and violation of political electoral rights.”

“Corruption will end, impunity will end,” he said.

Mexican law does not provide for impeachment of the president and mandates that the incumbent can only be put on trial for treason and serious crimes, such as murder.

Late last year, a group of opposition senators put forth a similar proposal.

Lopez Obrador is running a campaign based on fighting entrenched corruption and he has consolidated support, a poll showed Monday. However, the race has tightened as another opposition contender gained ground while the ruling party hopeful trailed.

The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has been hit by graft scandals and allegations of conflict of interest surrounding President Enrique Pena Nieto and several top aides.

Lopez Obrador said he would propose three candidates for congressional approval to take over the position as attorney general: judges Eva De Gyves Zarate and Juan Luis Gonzalez Alcantara and lawyer Bernardo Batiz, who served as the capital’s attorney general when Lopez Obrador was mayor.

He said he would not lobby in favour of any of the three and would leave the decision to lawmakers, if he wins the election. He also put forward candidates to take over as top electoral crimes prosecutor and a newly created anti-corruption post.

Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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