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Freedom of information should not be subsumed by partisan interests, says RSF, amidst electoral controversy

(RSF/IFEX) - 4 July 2012 - Reporters Without Borders is alarmed at the growing controversy surrounding Mexico's federal election on 1 July.

Right up to the eve of election day, the campaign was marked by numerous attacks on journalists and also on observers, bloggers and campaigners for electoral transparency such as members of the #YoSoy132 collective.

Much of the violence has been attributed to supporters of the three main candidates, starting with backers of the man who has been proclaimed the winner, Enrique Pena Nieto, leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that led the country continuously from 1929 to 2000. The fact that the candidate of the left, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, has asked the Federal Electoral Institute for a recount could further increase tension.

"A huge demonstration is expected to take place in the Federal District on 7 July. Support is already gathering for the campaign against electoral fraud and vote-buying, which has been reported in the international media," Reporters Without Borders said.

"This creates an explosive atmosphere in a country already exhausted by years of violence, including a six-year offensive by the federal authorities against drug trafficking.

"On behalf of the safety of journalists and all those who work to inform the public, and on behalf of constitutional freedom at such a critical moment for Mexico's democratic life, we call for the following:

- A major inquiry into the obstructions, censorship and intimidation that may have affected the coverage and observation of the electoral process.
- A genuinely fair and transparent national debate on how the election was conducted, to which the mass media will contribute in the overriding interests of balance and pluralism.
- A stand by the journalistic profession against escalation and partisan attacks that could polarise still further a bruised and divided society."

In addition, the organization hopes for the early clarification of the circumstances of the death of the 22-year-old American journalist Armando Montaño, whose body was found in an elevator shaft at his apartment building on 30 June. Among the stories covered by Montano, an intern in the Mexico City bureau of the Associated Press news agency, was the killing of three federal police officers at the capital's Benito Juarez airport on 25 June.

The Federal District public prosecutor's office told Reporters Without Borders that a murder investigation had been launched. In the past decade, 85 journalists have been killed and 15 others have disappeared in Mexico.
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