President Vicente Fox backed away from another showdown with leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday, announcing that he wouldn’t hold his annual Independence Day celebration in the capital’s main Zocalo square, in order to avoid protesters.
Lopez Obrador, who claims his narrow loss to conservative Felipe Calderon in July 2 presidential elections was fraudulent, had vowed to upstage Fox by refusing to take part in today’s annual salute of “Viva Mexico!” delivered each year by the president.
On Thursday evening, the leftist politician spoke to thousands of cheering supporters in the plaza, trumpeting the changed venue for the celebration.
“We are very happy because the traitor to democracy will not be here tomorrow,” the former Mexico City mayor said.
Fox will move his ceremony to the small, central town of Dolores Hidalgo, 170 miles northwest of Mexico City, where Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo launched the first call for independence from Spain in 1810.
Al-Qaida links with French opponents
Al-Qaida has for the first time announced a union with an Algerian insurgent group that has designated France as an enemy, saying they will act together against French and American interests.
Current and former French officials specializing in terrorism said Thursday that an al-Qaida alliance with the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French initials GSPC, was cause for concern.
“We take these threats very seriously,” Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said, adding in an interview on France-2 television that the threat to France was “high” and “permanent,” and that “absolute vigilance” was required.
Al-Qaida’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, announced the “blessed union” in a video posted this week on the Internet to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
Smith supports inquest into death
Anna Nicole Smith supports a formal inquest to determine how her 20-year-old son died while visiting her in the hospital, an attorney for the former Playboy playmate and reality TV star said Thursday.
“She fully wants this process to take place and she wishes the public to not jump to conclusions and to wait for the conclusion of the proceedings,” said Michael Scott, one of Smith’s attorneys.
Her son Daniel Wayne Smith died Sunday, three days after she gave birth to a daughter in the Bahamas.
A jury inquest is scheduled to begin on Oct. 23. A toxicology report on Daniel Smith was expected to be completed by today. Officials said the results of the autopsy and toxicology tests would be kept secret until the inquest.
The Bahamas coroner’s office has termed the death “suspicious.” The term, however, meant the cause was not immediately apparent and did not necessarily imply foul play, coroner Linda P. Virgill told reporters Thursday.