Mexico president says U.S. finances anti-corruption 'coup plotters' group


FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks to the media during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has sent a diplomatic note asking the United States to suspend funding for an anti-corruption group critical of the government, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday.

Lopez Obrador said the formal protest was sent because of financial backing for Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), a group that investigates political corruption. The president says the group is seeking to undermine his government.

"It's interference, it's interventionism, it's promoting coup plotters," said Lopez Obrador, describing funding that includes money from the U.S. Agency for International Development, commonly known as USAID, as an affront to Mexico's sovereignty.

"That's why we're asking that (the U.S. government) clarifies this for us. A foreign government can't provide money to political groups."

Lopez Obrador was later asked if he believed the U.S. government was seeking to remove him from office, and he responded that he did not believe that was the case.

Lopez Obrador, who has touted his good relations with both the previous Trump administration and the current Biden administration, was speaking shortly before a call with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris about immigration.

On its website, MCCI lists USAID among its financial backers, which it says in total number more than 1,000 donors.

Governments around the world from India to Cuba have at times bristled against funding of organizatons they feel to be politically motivated by international foundations or the U.S. government.

In the one-page diplomatic note, reviewed by Reuters, the Mexican foreign ministry said it supported the "essential" work of civil society organizations and the corruption fight, but said MCCI was a political actor.

The ministry asked the United States to consider suspending the funding.

Lopez Obrador won a landslide election victory nearly three years ago largely on a promise to root out rampant corruption.

After Lopez Obrador threatened to send the diplomatic note on Thursday, the group posted on Twitter that its work was completely legal.

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Editing by Toby Chopra and Alistair Bell)

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