July 11, 2018 / 8:07 PM / 5 days ago

End of presidential immunity among plans of Mexico's new leader

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s president-elect, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on Wednesday sketched out his legislative priorities for the next government, including measures to end presidential immunity and curb compensation for high-earning public sector officials.

Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives for a meeting with new members of the Senate and lawmakers of his Party Morena in Mexico City, Mexico July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Lopez Obrador, who takes office on Dec. 1, also reaffirmed that his own presidential salary would be slashed and that privileges and perks for top officials would be scaled back.

“Everything to do with the republican austerity plan and fighting corruption will have priority from the first day of the new Congress,” he said after a meeting with incoming lawmakers from his National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party.

The former Mexico City mayor, who won a landslide election victory on July 1, has pledged to root out graft and combat inequality in Latin America’s No. 2 economy, as well as reduce gang violence convulsing much of the country.

As top officials prepare to get by on less, pay for teachers, nurses, doctors, police and the armed forces would rise, Lopez Obrador said, stressing that increases would be calibrated to avoid an upward price spiral.

“We have to avoid inflation,” he said, noting that the central bank would be consulted to curb any price pressures.

Lopez Obrador said the new Congress, which will start work in September, would also be presented with an initiative to double the minimum wage in the Mexico-U.S. border area.

That forms part of his plan to create better living conditions in Mexico and reduce illegal migration to the United States, in order to improve bilateral relations.

Ties have been strained over U.S. President Donald Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for his planned border wall and his bid to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The initiatives also include plans to create a public security ministry and change the government’s education reform.

The incoming administration would also put forward a law to remove obstacles to holding public consultations, as well as create a mechanism for recalling the president, he said.

Lopez Obrador said during the campaign he could hold public consultations on issues ranging from the government’s opening of the energy sector, the construction of Mexico City’s new airport, gay marriage and even his performance as president.

Marti Batres, an incoming MORENA senator and former chairman of the party, said on Twitter that corruption, fuel theft and electoral fraud would be treated as serious crimes.

Writing by Dave Graham and Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang

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