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Conservative Mexican Presidential Candidate Promises Anti-Poverty Programs

Conservative presidential candidate Felipe Calderon vowed Thursday to outflank rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with a broad anti-poverty program aimed at appeasing the leftist's largely poor followers.

Calderon, who holds a narrow lead in official vote counts in the still-disputed July 2 race, has largely kept a low profile, while Lopez Obrador has led street blockades and threatened a nationwide movement of civil disobedience over his complaints of fraud in the election.

"They think that we are going to fall for their provocations, but what they don't know is that we are going to outflank them on the left," Calderon told local media during a visit to western Jalisco state, where he is widely supported.

CountryWatch: Mexico

Calderon has promised to create jobs and help the poor through tax incentives and other policies.

"We are going to apply justice, and justice for real, in this country," he said. "I will be most committed to the concept of social justice, and correcting the terrible inequality that Mexicans live in."

Calderon's National Action Party also said his transition team is in talks with Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party. Lopez Obrador's party denied it is in any such talks.

Thousands of Lopez Obrador followers have camped out along Mexico's main Reforma avenue and in the central plaza, worsening the city's already infamous traffic jams and costing businesses millions of dollars in daily losses.

Lopez Obrador also made an apparent reference to fears that his supporters could clash with the army or police on Sept. 1, when President Vicente Fox is scheduled to give his final state-of-the-nation address, saying: "We are not going to get into confrontations."

Fox's spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, said Fox planned to deliver his annual state-of-the-nation address to Congress as usual on Sept. 1.

Also Thursday, the San Francisco-based group Global Exchange, a left-leaning nonprofit that observed Mexico's presidential election, said it had witnessed unexplained extra ballots in some of the ballot boxes opened during a partial recount earlier this month.

Lopez Obrador has said ballot box-stuffing marred the elections, and has insisted on a full recount of all 41 million ballots cast in the election.

Calderon has an advantage of less than 1 percent, or more than 240,000 votes, according to initial election results released by the autonomous Federal Electoral Institute days after the balloting.

Calderon has said the election was clean and called on Lopez Obrador to accept the final decision of the Federal Electoral Court, which has until Sept. 6 to announce a president-elect or annul the election.