Mexican court likely to rule on electoral challenge on Thursday

MEXICO CITY Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:36am EDT

Mexico's president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto gestures during a national meeting of elected mayors from the Institutional Revoluntionary Party (PRI), in Mexico City August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico's president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto gestures during a national meeting of elected mayors from the Institutional Revoluntionary Party (PRI), in Mexico City August 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's electoral tribunal will likely rule on Thursday on a legal bid to overturn Enrique Pena Nieto's victory in the July 1 presidential election, which has left the country in political limbo.

In a statement, the court said it would from 5 p.m. local time (6.00 p.m. EDT) discuss the challenge to Pena Nieto's win by the leftist runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Afterwards seven court judges are due to vote on whether to uphold it.

Lopez Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City, has accused Pena Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of buying votes and money laundering to secure victory.

Pena Nieto won the election by some 3.3 million votes, and electoral officials and legal experts expect the court to reject Lopez Obrador's challenge.

Pena Nieto is due to take office in December. His plans to make an early start on forging deals in Congress over economic reforms have been stymied by Lopez Obrador's defiance.

The PRI, which ruled Mexico between 1929 and 2000, fell short of a majority in the new Congress in the July 1 elections, making it reliant on support from other parties to pass legislation.

The new three-year Congress will first convene on Saturday.

The PRI was frequently accused of corruption and vote-rigging during its long rule, and Pena Nieto is characterized by Lopez Obrador as a tool of entrenched interests in Mexico.

Pena Nieto repeatedly dismissed the accusations and has said there can be no going back to the PRI's checkered past.

(Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Paul Simao)