Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that he would not congratulate President-elect Joe Biden until the U.S. election results were finalized.
Lopez Obrador became president of Mexico in 2018 after claiming election fraud caused him to lose his attempts to gain the office in 2006 and 2012. President Donald Trump has also asserted election fraud in the 2020 presidential election and has declined to concede victory.
While Biden has widely been named the winner of the 2020 U.S. election, Lopez Obrador has not shared a congratulatory message with Biden. Many other world leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping, have reached out to Biden to congratulate him on his apparent victory.
During a Wednesday press conference, Lopez Obrador said it wrong to congratulate Biden until the final results have the U.S. election had been confirmed. “We do not agree with offering congratulations in advance,” Lopez Obrador said, according to Reuters. “What’s the best thing? For us to wait.”
Newsweek reached out to the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, D.C. for comment.
In 2006, Lopez Obrador claimed he lost Mexico’s presidential election to Felipe Calderon because of voting irregularities. Lopez Obrador was ahead of Calderon until ballot tabulation was nearly completed when Calderon pulled ahead. Despite a recount demanded by Lopez Obrador and allegations of voter fraud, Calderon was declared the winner of the election by less than a full percentage point.
Mexico’s 2012 election was marred by accusations of vote-buying on behalf of candidate Enrique Pena Nieto. Lopez Obrador alleged that Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party handed out pre-paid gift cards and grocery items to potential voters. Despite the controversy, Nieto won the election with 38.21 percent of voter support while Lopez Obrador came in second with 31.59 percent of the vote.
Lopez Obrador’s reticence to congratulate Biden has raised the ire of some Democrats.
“Joe Biden lawfully and clearly won this election,” former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke said in November. “Every world leader should acknowledge this fact, including the president of our most important neighbor and ally, Mexico.”
In a November tweet, Texas Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro called Lopez Obrador’s refusal to congratulate Biden a “stunning diplomatic failure” as Biden’s administration was hoping to “usher in a new era of friendship and cooperation with Mexico.”
Lopez Obrador has expressed admiration for Trump. At a joint appearance following the signing of the USMCA trade agreement in July, Lopez Obrador said that Trump had given Mexico “understanding and respect.”
“I believe that, towards the future, there will be no motive or need to break our very good political relationship or the friendship between our two administrations,” Lopez Obrador said.
Although Trump has instructed his team to allow Biden’s representatives to cooperate with the transition efforts, Trump has yet to offer a concession. Trump’s legal team has initiated litigation to halt some areas from certifying the election results.