By Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexico’s ruling party named former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum its candidate for next year’s presidential election on Wednesday, putting her in pole position to become the country’s first female leader.
Sheinbaum, 61, is a close ally of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and had been regarded as the strong favorite to be selected in the national poll organized by the leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA).
“Today the Mexican people decided,” a smiling Sheinbaum told supporters to shouts of “president, president, president.”
“We will win in 2024,” she added.
Sheinbaum beat out five other contenders and won each of five polls organized to decide the result, averaging about 39% of the vote, the party said.
However, hours before the winner was announced, Sheinbaum’s closest rival, former foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, said the vote had been tainted by irregularities and must be redone.
Ebrard was not present as Sheinbaum was declared the winner, telling a Mexican radio station he and his team had been removed from the event. He said he would decide his next move on Monday.
His campaign has argued for weeks that there were problems in the selection process and had stepped up complaints in recent days.
Party leaders were quick to defend the vote.
“There is no incident that has affected the final result in a definitive manner,” said Alfonso Durazo, president of MORENA’s national board. “The result of this process is definitive.”
All of MORENA’s state governors, including Durazo, signed a statement that said they stood by the integrity of the selection process.
The main opposition has also chosen a female candidate – Xochitl Galvez, a charismatic and unconventional senator of Indigenous origin who overcame an impoverished background to become a successful entrepreneur.
The presidential election will be held on June 2.
(Reporting by Dave Graham and Adriana Barrera; additional reporting by Brendan O’Boyle; editing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Josie Kao and Edwina Gibbs)