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Gov. Makes Bid To Lead Mexico Party

November 26, 2000

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A controversial, state governor linked to Mexico’s old-guard politicians launched his bid Saturday in the unofficial race for the leadership of the country’s ruling party, which has been struggling since losing the presidency.

Roberto Madrazo, governor of the oil-rich state of Tabasco, held a rally Saturday outside the party’s headquarters in Mexico City before hundreds of supporters to launch his bid for the leadership of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, the government news agency Notimex reported.

The presidential loss July 2 left the PRI leaderless and searching for a new identity. The party _ which held power for 71 years by incorporating everyone from peasants to billionaires _ has degenerated into several groups squabbling for power.

Madrazo called the party’s stunning defeat to Vicente Fox of the conservative National Action Party ``an embarrassment,″ and said the PRI needs to return to its bases.

During his half-hour speech, Madrazo called for elections within the party, saying ``it is time for internal democracy.″

But opponents say Madrazo is among the most corrupt of the PRI’s old guard and accuse him of stealing the last Tabasco governor’s race through illegal campaign contributions and vote buying. His victory prompted massive protests.

Madrazo is backed by many of the nation’s governors but still lacks the support of President Ernesto Zedillo and the party’s current national president, Dulce Maria Sauri.

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