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Mexico's new president-elect discusses transition, budget with outgoing Vicente Fox

Mexico's new president-elect discusses transition, budget with outgoing Vicente Fox

Newly named President-elect Felipe Calderon began working on his new government Wednesday, discussing the transition with outgoing Vicente Fox as his leftist rival fought for the spotlight amid signs his nationwide protest movement is weakening.
The conservative ruling party candidate discussed the 2007 budget and other pending business with Fox, whom he will replace on Dec. 1. Lopez Obrador's supporters have vowed to block the inauguration.
Calderon and Fox chatted and strolled together on the manicured presidential grounds. But in an appearance before reporters, they stiffly shook hands and refused to raise their arms in a victory salute for reporters.
Fox didn't support Calderon's primary campaign because the two had a falling out after Calderon talked of running for president while still serving as Fox's energy secretary.
But both seemed to have set aside hard feelings, with Fox promising to name a transitional committee and have each of his Cabinet members put together a report about future challenges for the new government
Calderon said he was "convinced that the transition will be successful and that the foundation that President Vicente Fox has built with his government will allow Mexicans to move forward much more quickly and with more security and clarity," he said.
Trying to unify a nation ripped apart by a bitter presidential campaign and an even nastier post-election fight, Calderon has said his three main objectives are to fight crime, reduce poverty and improve the economy.
On Tuesday, Mexico's top electoral court declared Calderon the winner of the July 2 election by less than 234,000 votes out of 42 million cast. The ruling, which cannot be appealed, rejected claims by Lopez Obrador that the vote was skewed by systematic fraud and improper spending by the Fox administration.
Mexico's constitution limits presidents to one, six-year term, and Fox has said he will retire to his ranch on December.
U.S. President George W. Bush called Fox early Wednesday to congratulate the government on the "strength of Mexican democracy and stability of Mexico's institutions," according to Fox spokesman Ruben Aguilar.
Lopez Obrador, supported overwhelmingly by the poor, has vowed never to accept Calderon as president, but he may have to fight for the spotlight now that legal challenges to the election have been exhausted.
Thousands of Lopez Obrador supporters continue to block the capital's Reforma boulevard, their sprawling protest camps running from the stylish thoroughfare to the city's historic center.
But Mexico City's government, controlled by Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party, has asked the protesters to head home so that the capital can celebrate Independence Day, when the president shouts "Viva, Mexico!" on the evening of Sept. 15, followed by a military parade along streets now occupied by protesters.
On Tuesday, the Convergencia party _ one of three that nominated Lopez Obrador for the presidency _ left the electoral alliance, saying "it is time to rethink strategies." But some of its lawmakers promised not to recognize Calderon.
Some analysts have feared Lopez Obrador's increasingly radicalized supporters could turn violent. Business, church and civic leaders published advertisements in leading newspapers Wednesday urging peace.
The Federal Electoral Tribunal's decision came two months and three days after the election, leaving Calderon little time to savor his victory. He named a head of his transition team weeks ago, but put off a scheduled victory lap around Mexico and has yet to meet with key government officials or heads of state.