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Victor in Mexico Vote Resigns Amid Charges of Fraud : Elections: Ruling party candidate says he won fairly but will quit to preserve peace in Guanajuato state.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the wake of opposition charges of widespread electoral fraud, the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party’s candidate resigned as governor-elect of Guanajuato state late Thursday night, clearing the way for a new vote.

Ramon Aguirre’s announcement that he is stepping aside came a day after the conservative National Action Party’s candidate, Vicente Fox Quesada, vowed to prevent Aguirre from taking office “at any cost” because of a tainted vote.

In a statement given to the government news agency Notimex, Aguirre said: “I have made the most difficult decision of my life, completely convinced that it falls on me to preserve peace and harmony in Guanajuato. Threats of violence and intolerance are hovering over Guanajuato.

“I sought victory, and I have no doubt but that I achieved it, but one cannot put victory over everything.”

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Official results from the Aug. 18 election had given Aguirre 53% of the vote to Fox’s second-place showing with 35%, but Fox claimed he won the election. A third candidate, Porfirio Munoz Ledo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, got 7.7% of the official count and said his numbers pointed to a Fox victory.

The Guanajuato vote has been an embarrassment for President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who had hoped the Aug. 18 state and federal elections would prove his government is committed to democratic reform. It is likely Salinas made the decision for Aguirre to withdraw.

Fox supporters have been demonstrating in Guanajuato since the vote count was released. Fox told foreign reporters Wednesday that he had filed complaints with state election officials for 700 of the state’s 3,600 polling places.

In about 500 of the polling places, he said, there were more votes recorded than voters who turned out to cast ballots. He also charged that the government party had ousted National Action Party observers from many polling places.

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Fox said he could not legally protest the results from another 500 polling places where the ruling party, called PRI, got a disproportionately large share of the vote, but he considers those results highly suspect.

“Without hate or violence (but) at any cost,” he told reporters that the people of Guanajuato would not allow Aguirre to take office. He called for a fair vote count or a new election.

Aguirre called Fox and Munoz Ledo, his other competitor, “people ambitious for power” and asserted that the National Action Party’s protests were “on the margin of the law.”

Mexico has only one opposition governor, in the state of Baja California. He is the National Action Party’s Ernesto Ruffo Appel, elected in 1989. Fox said that President Salinas conceded that vote at the beginning of his administration to show that he was democratic, but that since then, the government has not been willing to recognize opposition victories.

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National Action and the Democratic Revolutionary Party also have protested the results of the gubernatorial election in San Luis Potosi, where Dr. Salvador Nava ran on a coalition ticket. PRI candidate Fausto Zapata was declared the winner there.

There was no indication when a new vote might be held in Guanajuato.

Meanwhile, electoral authorities annulled a mayoral election in Puerto Guaymas, Sonora, that had led to street rioting by National Action Party supporters claiming victory there. The ruling party had been declared the winner.


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