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Mexican lawmakers vote to remove presidential legal immunity

posted onOctober 30, 2019

Mexican lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to end presidential immunity on Tuesday (Oct.29), Reuters reported.

Lawmakers in the lower house approved the proposal backed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on a vote of 420 to 29, and it now moves to the Mexican Senate. 

If ratified by the Senate and then passed by a majority of state legislatures, the proposal would reform the constitution to allow the country's presidents to be put on trial while in office for crimes including corruption and organised crime. 

The president can currently only be impeached for treason and “serious crimes of the common order.”

The proposed constitutional change is popular with many Mexicans. Outrage over corruption in the last government drew many voters to Obrador, who took office on Dec.1, 2018.

In his inaugural address, Obrador, widely known by his initials, AMLO, declared that he intends to put a "definitive end" to corruption, although he announced that his government will not push for investigations against his presidential predecessors. 

He also reaffirmed that his own presidential salary would be slashed  by 60 percent and that privileges and perks for top officials would be scaled back. He spurned the presidential jet, residence and security detail. 

The people voted for a change, and we are going to apply a policy of austerity," he said.
"When a public official agrees to be paid 600,000 pesos a month, that's corruption. In a country with so much poverty, for a public servant to earn what some have been earning up to now, that is an act of dishonesty."

Constitutional amendments in Mexico, Latin America's No. 2 economy, require two-thirds support in both chambers of Congress, as well as ratification in a majority of Mexico’s state legislatures. 

AMLO's MORENA party and its allies control Congress. 

With reporting by Reuters, AFP