July 2, 2005

Mexico rally backs Fox, defies electoral body

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Several thousand Mexicans staged apro-democracy rally on Saturday to back President Vicente Fox,who is risking the wrath of electoral authorities bycelebrating his historical election victory five years ago.

Crowds gathered at the capital's Angel monument where Foxwas to give a speech later to mark the fifth anniversary of hishistoric election victory that did away with 71 years ofone-party rule.

The opposition has complained to the Federal ElectoralInstitute watchdog that the rally is an attempt to influencegovernorship elections in the state of Mexico on Sunday, whereFox's conservative National Action Party is struggling.

The electoral body has warned Fox to avoid partisanbehavior at the rally, organized by supporters of his PANparty.

Fox swept away the long-ruling Institutional RevolutionaryParty, or PRI, in elections on July 2, 2000, but high hopes ofa better life for Mexicans have largely not been realized.

Supporters recalled Fox's record as a democrat.

"There is more democracy, of course. Fox worked for manyyears to break the PRI," said pharmacy worker Rogelio Perez,27, twirling a wooden rattle at the rally.

Attendance at Saturday's event was a far cry from fiveyears ago, when tens of thousands of Mexicans rushed to thelandmark monument after Fox won the presidency.

The main opposition PRI still dominates Congress where ithas blocked Fox's economic reform plans. Opinion polls show theparty's candidate, Enrique Pena, is also set to win Sunday'selection in the state of Mexico, seen as a key indicator of thepresidential polls in July 2006.