South Africa’s president urges parties to find common ground in talks after election deadlock

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MEXICO CITY: Two people were killed in violent riots at polling stations on Sunday during Mexico’s historic election, in which the ruling party’s left-wing candidate Claudia Sheinbaum is expected to become the country’s first female president.
Voting was suspended at a polling station after one person was killed in a shooting in Coyomeapan, a city in Puebla state, the state election authority said in the afternoon. The attorney general confirmed another death at a polling station in Tlapanala, also in Puebla.
Mexico’s largest election to date has also been the most violent in modern history. Thirty-eight candidates were murdered, including a local candidate who was shot dead on Saturday night. The deadly violence has fueled concerns that rival drug cartels could threaten democracy.
Sheinbaum, who is ahead of her main rival Xochitl Galvez in opinion polls, will be tasked with combating violence caused by organized crime if elected. More people have been killed during outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s term in office than during any other administration in Mexico’s modern history.

A victory for either woman would be a major step for Mexico, a country known for its macho culture. The winner will begin a six-year term on October 1.
On her way to the polls on Sunday morning, Sheinbaum told reporters it was a “historic day” and that she felt relaxed and content.
“Everyone has to vote,” Sheinbaum, a physicist and former mayor of Mexico City, said on local television.
Galvez, a senator representing an opposition coalition of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the right-wing PAN and the left-wing PRD, chatted with her supporters before casting her vote early Sunday.
“God is with me,” Galvez said, adding that she expects a difficult day.
Lopez Obrador, Sheinbaum’s mentor, greeted supporters and posed for photos as he walked with his wife from the presidential palace to the polls.
Long queues of voters formed even before polling stations opened at 8:00 a.m. local time (2:00 p.m. CET), and there were reports of delays in opening.
“It seems like a dream. I never thought I would one day vote for a woman,” said 87-year-old Edelmira Montiel, a Sheinbaum supporter from Tlaxcala, Mexico’s smallest state.
“Before, we were not even allowed to vote, and if you could vote, you had to vote for the person your husband recommended. Thank God that has changed and I can live with it,” Montiel added.
Almost 100 million Mexicans are eligible to vote in Sunday’s election. Other offices up for election include the mayor of Mexico City, eight governorships and both houses of Congress. Around 20,000 elective offices are up for election, more than ever before in Mexico’s history.
Polls close at 6pm local time (00:00 GMT Monday), with the first provisional official results expected late Sunday.
“Flooded with blood”
“The country is flooded with blood as a result of so much corruption,” said Rosa Maria Baltazar, 69, a voter from the upper-middle-class Del Valle neighborhood in Mexico City. “I want a change of government for my country, something for a better life.”
Lopez Obrador is at the center of the campaign, seeking to make the vote a referendum on his political agenda. Sheinbaum has rejected opposition claims that she is a “puppet” of Lopez Obrador, but has promised to continue many of his policies, including those that have helped Mexico’s poorest.
Polls suggest that Morena, the ruling party of Lopez Obrador and Sheinbaum, is unlikely to win a two-thirds majority in Congress. That would make it more difficult for Sheinbaum to push constitutional reforms past opposition parties, including the

Indigenous Tzotzil people vote in the parliamentary elections in Zinacantan in the Mexican state of Chiapas on June 2, 2024. (AFP)

PRI, which ruled Mexico for about seven decades until the democratic elections in 2000.
The challenges facing the next president also include solving electricity and water shortages and attracting manufacturers to relocate as part of the nearshoring trend, in which companies move their supply chains closer to their main markets. The winner will also have to grapple with what to do with Pemex, the state-owned oil giant whose production has been declining for two decades and which is drowning in debt.
Both candidates have promised to expand social programs. But Mexico has a large budget deficit this year and the central bank expects sluggish GDP growth of just 1.5 percent next year.
The new president faces tense negotiations with the United States over the enormous flow of migrants entering the United States through Mexico, as well as over security cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking – all at a time when the fentanyl epidemic is raging in the United States.
Mexican politicians expect those negotiations to become more difficult if Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidential election in November. Trump, the first U.S. president to be convicted of a crime, has announced plans to impose 100 percent tariffs on Chinese cars made in Mexico and said he would mobilize special forces to fight the cartels.
Sam Castillo, a 25-year-old dancer who lives between the state of Oaxaca and Mexico City, expressed hope that Sheinbaum could be more involved in foreign relations than Lopez Obrador.
Waiting to cast his vote at a polling station in the Florida district, south of Mexico City, he said he felt more comfortable as part of the LGBT community since the left-wing Morena party came to power.
“What we have seen with gender legislation and marriage equality, for me, has something to do with the party,” said Castillo.

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