Divided Chiapas state gets two governors

THE BALTIMORE SUN

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico -- Two men have taken the oath of office to be governor of the deeply divided southern state of Chiapas, both promising a new constitution and electoral reform.

Eduardo Robledo, the ruling party candidate and official winner of the Aug. 21 election, was inaugurated during a special legislative session yesterday at the modernistic City Theater with Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo in attendance.

Amada Avendano, who claims the election was stolen from him by vote fraud, was installed yesterday at the main plaza several blocks away, where 3,000 protesters gathered in front of the statehouse to witness a Mayan ceremony of incense and chanting in the unrelenting sun.

Both events were peaceful. Demonstrators who had marched from all over the state to protest Mr. Robledo's inauguration did not attempt to confront the tight security surrounding the theater. Police guarding the statehouse watched the plaza ceremony indifferently and protesters did not disturb their barricades.

However, tensions remain high as Mexicans wait to find out whether the Zapatista National Liberation Army will carry out its threat to break its uneasy truce with the government once Mr. Robledo takes office. The rebels, who briefly took control of four county seats last New Year's Day, have said that Mr. Avendano will be recognized as governor in any territory they control.

The inauguration day was the first measure of how Mr. Zedillo's week-old administration would respond to both the rebels and to nonviolent protests.

"My presence in Chiapas is for peace," Mr. Zedillo said in a speech.

He repeated orders to the Mexican armed forces to continue the cease-fire in effect since mid-January and he called for negotiation and dialogue, without mentioning the Zapatistas by name.

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