Friday, June 14, 2024

‘Unprecedented’ transition process begins with joint cabinet meeting

President Enrique Peña Nieto, president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador and members of the current and prospective cabinets met in Mexico City yesterday, marking the beginning of an “unprecedented” transition process.

“It’s an unprecedented meeting,” Peña Nieto said, because in the recent past it hadn’t been decided at this stage of the transition who would head the various federal departments.

López Obrador took the unusual step of naming the would-be members of his cabinet more than six months before the July 1 election, and in the wake of his landslide victory he has only made one change.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting at the National Palace, Peña Nieto stressed that he and López Obrador — rivals in the 2012 presidential election — had committed to collaborate so that the change of government on December 1 would be as efficient and effective as possible.

“I’ve had the opportunity to hold talks with the president-elect about the [transition] process in a climate of respect and cordiality . . . so that the next government has all the necessary elements that allow it to begin its administration successfully and with the most information that we can provide them with,” he said.

For his part, López Obrador thanked the president and once again recognized that Peña Nieto had kept his pledge to not interfere in the electoral process.

But despite both leaders stressing themes of mutual respect, the encounter was not without moments of tension.

López Obrador didn’t shy away from outlining plans on contentious issues that place him at loggerheads with the outgoing president, such as the 2013 educational reform and the new Mexico City International Airport.

“The educational reform will be canceled and replaced by another reform that will take the point of view of teachers and parents into consideration,” he said.

López Obrador added that former teachers’ union boss Elba Esther Gordillo, absolved of corruption charges and released from house arrest earlier this month, would have the right to participate in the process to decide the new government’s education policies.

Gordillo, a staunch opponent of the reform, was arrested just three months into Peña Nieto’s term and the day after he signed the reform into law.

In response, Peña Nieto said he would defend the educational reform until the end of his administration but added that he and his government would be respectful of the decisions that the new administration takes.

López Obrador also reiterated his plan to review the contracts for the new airport, which is considered Peña Nieto’s signature infrastructure project.

During the campaign period, he railed against it, charging that it was corrupt, too expensive and not needed before softening his stance and saying that the people would ultimately decide its fate.

The president-elect said Friday that two options — continuing with the current project or scrapping it and converting an existing air force base for commercial use — will be put up for public consultation in the last week of October.

López Obrador and his cabinet will be sworn in on December 1.

Source: El Financiero (sp)

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