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The leftwing candidate in Mexico’s disputed presidential elections vowed on Sunday to escalate his strategy of civil resistance “to its ultimate consequences” if the country’s electoral authorities did not order a full recount of the votes cast on July 2.

The ultimatum came as Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal, the highest electoral authority, was finishing a recount it ordered last weekend involving about 9 per cent of votes cast in last month’s election.

The tribunal was expected to complete the limited recount count by Monday. But Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who narrowly lost the election to Felipe Calderón, the centre-right candidate, said the limited recount had already uncovered “great and grave irregularities” and that he would not accept the result.

Speaking in Mexico City to a significantly smaller crowd than those of previous rallies, Mr López Obrador said: “The tribunal has the opportunity to take what would be a historically transcendental decision…it still has time to rectify [the decision for a partial recount] and make the people’s will count.”

Since he lost last month’s election by a razor-thin 0.58 per cent of the votes cast, Mr López Obrador has become increasingly radical in his discourse and his followers have stepped up their actions.

This week his supporters took over toll roads, picketed foreign-owned banks in Mexico City and stopped workers from entering.

Those actions came on top of Mr López Obrador’s orders two weeks ago to occupy Mexico City’s central square and blockade one of the capital’s main avenues with tents. The blockade has created chaos in the city and polarised an already divided population.

On Sunday Mr López Obrador said the blockade would continue as long as it took to defend democracy. “We are prepared to resist for as long as it takes. We could be here for years if the circumstances warrant it,” he said.

He reiterated his insistence that the July 2 election was fraudulent, and announced a series of actions he and his followers would take if the tribunal confirmed Mr Caldeón as the official winner.

He promised to protest at every one of Mr Calderón’s acts as head of state were the tribunal to confirm him as the official winner. He also said he would protest the September 1 congressional address of Vicente Fox, Mexico’s president and a member of Mr Calderon’s National Action Party.

Mr López Obrador announced another rally on September 16 in which he said he and his followers would decide what medium- and long-term actions they would take. Turning to the crowd he asked: “Shall we fight against the imposition, to the ultimate consequences to protect democracy?” The response was emphatic: “Yes”.

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