- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2006

MEXICO CITY — President-elect Felipe Calderon started building his administration yesterday by appealing to the middle-class voters who fueled his slim victory and working to win over poor Mexicans who believe he stole the election.

The conservative former energy secretary discussed the 2007 budget and the logistics of the transition with the man he will replace, President Vicente Fox. He continued to call for unity in a nation torn by a bitter presidential campaign and a nastier postelection fight.

Mr. Calderon said he would consider including key leaders from opposition parties in his Cabinet, and would focus on creating jobs, reducing poverty and stopping a rise in crime.

“I am going to be a president for everyone, without making distinctions. A president driven by fairness and equality,” he said. “That’s my job, regardless of whomever someone voted for.”

Mr. Calderon has offered to sit down and negotiate with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist former Mexico City mayor he barely beat in the July 2 election.

But Mr. Lopez Obrador has said he will never recognize a Calderon presidency and he is not interested in negotiating with the man he has labeled a fraudulent victor.

President Bush called Mr. Fox early yesterday and congratulated the government on the “strength of Mexican democracy and stability of Mexico’s institutions,” according to Mr. Fox’s spokesman. He later called Mr. Calderon to offer personal congratulations.

Thousands of Lopez Obrador supporters continued to block Mexico City’s stylish Reforma boulevard, their sprawling protest camps filling the historic city center.

“We are going to fight all of this,” said protester Gerardo Fernandez. “We aren’t going to let [Calderon] take office.”

When asked yesterday about Mr. Lopez Obrador’s refusal to negotiate an end to the protests, Mr. Calderon said: “Mexico has to move on, to move forward and keep working and that’s what we will do, despite the fact that I regret the rejection of negotiations.”

Mr. Fox didn’t support Mr. Calderon’s primary campaign because the two had a falling out after Mr. Calderon talked of running for president while he was still serving as Mr. Fox’s energy secretary.

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