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Mexico border state extends governor’s term amid criticism

July 24, 2019

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Officials in Mexico’s northern border state of Baja California have come under criticism for extending the term of a newly elected governor.

The dispute in Baja California, where the border city of Tijuana is located, has become a national scandal, with the federal Congress accusing local legislators of ignoring the will of voters.

The state Congress voted late Tuesday to grant Governor-elect Jaime Bonilla five years in office despite the fact he was elected in June for a two-year term.

The federal Congress passed a resolution urging state lawmakers to reverse the decision, saying voters thought they were electing a governor for two years.

The state Congress then held an unusual closed-door session late Tuesday at a city council building in Playas de Rosarito, far from the state capital in Mexicali. The lawmakers confirmed the term extension and demanded respect for the state’s sovereignty.

Governors in Mexico usually serve six years, but terms have been temporarily shortened in some states to try to make local votes coincide with federal elections held every three years.

Some opposition figures have tried to depict the situation as power grab by Bonilla’s Morena party to try to perpetuate itself in power. President Andres Manuel López Obrador, who founded Morena, said he had nothing to do with the Baja California measure and noted that the opposition National Action Party holds a majority in the state legislature.

“It should be noted that this measure was approved by all the parties,” said López Obrador, noting “I had nothing to do with it.”

Some federal legislators have said they would appeal the state measure to the Supreme Court, arguing it was unconstitutional.

Baja California has long been a stronghold of National Action, but the current administration was tarnished by allegations of corruption a persistent wave of homicides in Tijuana. The party lost the governorship for the first time in almost 30 years in the June elections;

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