Mexico's PRI to move quickly on anti-corruption watchdog

MEXICO CITY Thu Aug 9, 2012 7:45pm EDT

Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto smiles during a news conference in Mexico City July 18, 2012. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto smiles during a news conference in Mexico City July 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Creating an anti-corruption authority and extending the powers of an existing transparency watchdog will be among the first projects Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) party will bring to Congress, a senior party figure said on Thursday.

The PRI, whose candidate Enrique Pena Nieto won the presidential elections on July 1, will return to power on December 1. The party, often accused of corruption, ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000.

Pena has said that he wants to create an entity that could hear corruption complaints not only on a federal level, as currently happens before Mexico's federal attorney general, but also on a state and municipal level.

"It's a demand from society that will, as a priority, have to be a part of the legislative agenda of the parliamentary group of the PRI," Manlio Fabio Beltrones told Reuters on Thursday after he was named the PRI's leader in the lower house.

Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has accused Pena Nieto and the PRI of buying votes and money laundering. He is seeking to have the election annulled and has challenge the result before an electoral tribunal.

The PRI does not have an absolute majority in the new congress, which will begin business on September 1.

The house will likely begin studying the proposals before the end of September, Beltrones added.

Pena has also promised to bring fiscal, energy and labor reforms before Congress, but these will likely come after the corruption and transparency proposals, since the lower house will review the 2013 budget proposal from December 15 and that must be approved by December 31.

(Reporting by Anahi Rama; Writing by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Anthony Boadle)