Mexican president signs one-term pledge
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador signed Tuesday a letter pledging not to seek a change to Mexico’s constitution that would allow him to seek a second term.
“We are going to sign a document, a commitment to the people of Mexico. I will read it and I will sign it so it can be published and there is proof,” he said during his morning press conference.
The lower house of Congress approved last week a constitutional amendment to allow a referendum at the midpoint of the six-year presidential term, giving voters the chance to decide whether the incumbent should remain in office.
The proposal is now before the Senate.
Critics say the real intent of the initiative is to open the door to the possibility of presidential re-election.
In the letter he signed Tuesday in front of reporters, Lopez Obrador stressed that he submitted to a recall vote during his 2000-2005 tenure as Mexico City mayor and he had “reiterated that commitment in the three subsequent presidential campaigns.”
“I was elected for a six-year presidency, but according to the constitution, the people have the right and the possibility to change their government,” he said of the referendum he plans for 2021.
The leftist president dismissed as “unfounded” the suggestion that the proposed amendment represents a stealth attempt to eliminate the existing one-term limit.
Lopez Obrador said that, like President Francisco I. Madero, who was assassinated in 1913, he believes that “power only has meaning and virtue when it is placed at the service of others.”
“I think that six years are enough to uproot corruption and impunity. And to transform Mexico into a prosperous, democratic and fraternal republic. I have no doubt we will have enough time to consummate the fourth transformation of the country’s public life,” he said.
Lopez Obrador added that he does not favor eliminating term limits for public office “under any circumstances.”
“Understand, conservative gentlemen, that I will leave the presidency on the exact day set by the supreme law, and in 2024 I will go to Palenque,” he said, referring to the town in the southern state of Chiapas where he has a ranch.
By 2024, he said, he hopes to have effected sufficient change to prevent Mexico from slipping back “into the stultifying and sad times when the mafia of power dominated.”