POLITICS IN MEXICO….Mexican politics is not exactly my beat, but given Mexico’s authoritarian history this looks like bad news indeed:

In a move that could ignite a political firestorm, the Congress stripped Mexico City’s leftist mayor of his immunity from prosecution Thursday, possibly eliminating the leading contender from the 2006 presidential race.

….President Vicente Fox, meanwhile, insisted that prosecuting the mayor ? for what many citizens considered to be an innocuous infraction ? was essential to Mexican rule of law.

Earlier in the day, Lopez Obrador had formally announced he would seek the Democratic Revolutionary Party’s nomination for president in next year’s election. Polls give him comfortable leads over front-runners in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Fox’s National Action Party (PAN).

The “innocuous infraction” in this case was Lopez Obrador’s violation of a court order to halt construction of a road leading to a hospital. But innocuous or not, merely being charged with a crime makes you ineligible to run for office in Mexico. This means that the majority party has effectively eliminated its strongest rival from the race.

Stay tuned.