Mexico president changes tack in bid to put National Guard under Army

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO - Mexico's Pemex inaugurates Dos Bocas refinery

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday switched his strategy to put the military in charge of the National Guard to crack down on violence fueled by organized crime.

Noting he did not have the votes for a two-thirds majority in Congress needed for constitutional changes, he said he would on Sept. 1 submit a fast-tracked bill to make the National Guard a branch of the Army. This would require only a simple majority to achieve his goal.

"I cannot sit with my arms folded," he told a regular news conference, saying he was proposing the law so it could be agreed quickly in order to strengthen public security.

He said he hoped the body, formed in 2019 to replace the Mexico's Federal Police, whose reputation had been tarnished by years of allegations of abuses and corruption, would benefit from the experience and resources of the armed forces.

Critics of his National Guard plan are concerned about the degree to which Lopez Obrador has empowered the Army, giving it responsibilities extending well beyond security matters, such as overseeing civil infrastructure projects and customs checks.

Lopez Obrador said if adversaries wanted to challenge the new bill, they could take it to the Supreme Court.

(Reporting by Sarah Morland; Editing by David Gregorio)