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GUADALAJARA: Mexico’s presidential race entered a critical phase yesterday after the four candidates clashed in a second debate as about 90 000 people protested in the capital against the front-runner.
The televised debate, held in Guadalajara in the violence-torn state of Jalisco, could help decide the tight race with just three weeks to go before the July 1 vote.
Two severed human arms wrapped in a bag were found shortly before the debate near the exhibition centre where the event was held, police said. Jalisco is one of the centres of drug violence that has claimed more than 50 000 lives in Mexico over the past six years.
The top two rivals – Enrique Pena Nieto, of the long-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party, and leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who lost by a narrow margin in 2006 – hoped to get a boost from the event that could take them over the top.
Both Pena Nieto and Lopez Obrador talked about the need to fight poverty, stimulate economic growth and recover Mexico’s leading role in Latin America.
“There is a need for a new course that will translate into better living conditions for Mexicans,” said the telegenic 45-year-old Pena Nieto, who now has a commanding lead with 43.6 percent support in opinion polls to Lopez Obrador’s 29.2 percent.
Meanwhile, Lopez Obrador urged his compatriots “to vote without fear for change”.
For Josefina Vazquez Mota, of the ruling centre-right National Action Party, who is trailing with 25.3 percent support, the debate offered her a last chance to score big in her quest to become Mexico’s first woman president. – Sapa-AFP