Mexicans began voting Sunday in a divisive national referendum championed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on whether he should step down or complete his six-year term.
While recall elections in other countries tend to be initiated by political opponents, Mexico’s vote is the brainchild of Lopez Obrador, who enjoys an approval rating of nearly 60 percent.
The 68-year-old president, who was elected in 2018, attended a polling station near the presidential palace with his wife soon after voting began at 8 am (1300 GMT) across most of the country.
“Let no one forget that the people are in charge,” he said afterward.
Supporters of the referendum the first of its kind in Mexico say it is a way of increasing democratic accountability, giving voters the opportunity to remove the president due to loss of confidence.
“Now we have the chance to change what’s not right. There have been presidents who, after being elected by the people, ended up serving other interests,” Benigno Gasca, a 57-year-old mathematician and musician, told AFP.
But critics see it as an expensive propaganda exercise and an unnecessary distraction from the many challenges facing the country, including drug-related violence, poverty and the rising cost of living.
“It’s a useless exercise money thrown away,” said Laura Gonzalez, a 62-year-old retired teacher.
Experts say turnout is likely to be well below the 40-percent level needed for the vote to be legally binding.
Opposition parties have urged Mexicans to abstain from voting in what they call a “populist exercise.”
Eyes on turnout
Some 93 million voters are able to participate in the midterm referendum, which was incorporated into Mexico’s constitution in 2019 at Lopez Obrador’s initiative.
Most of the signatures that were collected in order for the vote to happen came from his supporters.
Given the popularity of the anti-corruption austerity advocate, his presidency is not at risk “at all,” said political analyst Martha Anaya.
On the contrary, the referendum could give impetus to his policy agenda, such as controversial energy reforms, she said.
The president also has his eye on the 2024 elections and the prospects for his party and possible successors, including Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
The Mexican constitution limits presidents to one term, and Lopez Obrador has vowed to retire in 2024, following accusations by opponents that the referendum is a step towards trying to stay in power.
Lopez Obrador enjoyed an approval rating of 58 percent in March, although that was far below a peak of 81 percent seen in February 2019, according to a poll of polls by the Oraculus firm.
The president accuses the National Electoral Institute of sabotaging the referendum in collusion with his political opponents.
The body, which unsuccessfully sought a larger budget, said it would set up around 57,500 polling stations, compared with 161,000 in a normal national election.
Voting will end at 6 pm (2300 GMT) in most of the country, with the result expected to be announced late Sunday.
Lopez Obrador has overseen a series of referendums since taking office on controversial issues including his “Maya Train” railroad project, and canceling a partially finished airport for Mexico City.
A public consultation held in August on whether to prosecute his predecessors for alleged corruption drew only a small fraction of voters to the polls.
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PHOTOS|| Lady Shows Her Body Transformation, Wows Social Media Users
A Nigerian lady identified on social media as Adaobi has wowed netizens after sharing photos of her body transformation.
She started the weight loss journey in 2020 and has now slimmed down to a point that abs are very visible.
Adaobi used the photos to motivate others who may be hesitating to embark on a workout routine to get that superb body they desire.
She also advised against procrastination by saying that her transformation should be seen as a sign why people in similar situations should start today to seek a solution.
See her post:
This is your sign to stop starting tomorrow 🙂✨ pic.twitter.com/BfIk2MQRxK
— Adaobi 👸🏾 (@deemckanto) May 15, 2022
Why Mugabe supported Chamisa in 2018 Presidential Race
IT has emerged that the late former President Robert Mugabe decided to support the then MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s 2018 presidential bid after President Emmerson Mnangagwa allegedly shut the door on the nonagenarian.
This is contained in a document titled Proposed Framework for the Reunification of Zanu PF, authored by former Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and his G40 colleagues.
The document points out that Mugabe had intentions to engage Mnangagwa to sort out the problems in Zanu PF, but he was shunned.
Speaking to one of the country’s news outpost NewsDay on Wednesday Mzembi said: “Read the document which I was authorized by Mugabe to take to Mnangagwa after protracted discussions and meetings between us. This is how he envisaged reunification in the party: rapprochement and peace-building, and not this razz-mataz approach of fishing unsuspecting political juveniles on the back of granting them individually and family security.
“This was not Mugabe’s approach; he was not selfish to the extent of wanting to cut a deal for himself back into Zanu PF to the exclusion of comrades who had sacrificed for him, standing with him on principle until the last.”
The document claims that one of Mugabe’s conditions was that after the coup, G40 members should be reinstated to the party and government and that their victimization should end.
He also wanted Zanu PF to unite.
Mnangagwa is said to have demanded that Mugabe endorses his candidature ahead of the 2018 elections in return.
Mugabe’s endorsement of Mnangagwa was expected to be reciprocated by revisiting some decisions or aspects of the decisions of the November 19, 2017, Zanu PF central committee meeting which included, inter alia, the sacking of Mugabe from the party.
Former G40 members said to have been close to the negotiations in 2018 declined to comment on the issue.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba on Tuesday said: “Why don’t you do more homework and talk to all the parties, then you come back to me, and I will tell you what I know?”
However, efforts to get him to comment on the issue yesterday were fruitless.
Meanwhile, the G40 members are reportedly lobbying regional leaders to call for dialogue with Mnangagwa.
Some of the G40 bigwigs, who were sacked by the regime, included former ministers Mandiitawepi Chimene (Manicaland provincial), Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao (Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare), Sydney Sekeramai (Defence), who lost his job soon after the coup, Walter Chidakwa (Mines), Jonathan Moyo (Higher and Tertiary Education), Ignatius Chombo (Finance) and Samuel Undenge (Energy).