Thursday 19 September 2019

Mexico’s president shuns trappings of power as he gets down to work

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to sell the presidential jet.

Mexico’s newly sworn-in President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds up a chieftain’s staff (Eduardo Verdugo/AP)
Mexico’s newly sworn-in President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds up a chieftain’s staff (Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

By Maria Verza, Associated Press

Mexico’s newly inaugurated president has started work after pledging to govern as a common man and end decades of secrecy, heavy security and luxury enjoyed by past leaders.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has already decided to offload the presidential jet, sported slightly ruffled hair at his first early morning news conference as president.

“Isn’t that a change, that I am here, informing you?” Mr Lopez Obrador asked reporters.

While past presidents have very seldom held news conferences, Mr Lopez Obrador promised to do so on a near-daily basis, much as he did when he was mayor of Mexico City from 2000-2005.

A crowd in Mexico City marking the new presidency (Marco Ugarte/AP)

Mr Lopez Obrador took his first airplane flight as president on Sunday, boarding a commercial flight with the rest of the passengers.

He has promised to sell the presidential jet as an austerity measure.

Mr Lopez Obrador arrived at Mexico City’s National Palace in the same white compact car he used before taking office on Saturday.

Mr Lopez Obrador refused the military bodyguards used by past presidents and travels with a small staff of aides who provide security.

Mexico’s new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

He usually travels tourist class.

“I feel safe, protected and supported by the Mexican people,” Mr Lopez Obrador said.

He also claimed that the number of murders had declined on Saturday and Sunday, his first two days in office.

In the first 10 months of 2018, homicides in Mexico have run at an average of just over 80 per day.

But Mr Lopez Obrador said the average over the weekend was about 50, according to initial reports.

He cautioned that those totals are preliminary and still under review.

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