Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday backed a proposal to scrap Mexico’s freedom of information body, adding it to a planned bonfire of autonomous watchdogs and regulators that he argues are unnecessary and hostile toward him.
Lopez Obrador, who has frequently lambasted the body known as INAI for its Spanish initials, made his comments after the head of the Mexican Senate, his ally, presented a bill to eliminate the national transparency institute.
“I propose the Federal Auditor’s Office, which belongs to an independent branch, the legislative branch, be in charge of transparency and that (INAI) disappears,” Lopez Obrador told a news conference.
The INAI is enshrined in the constitution, and opposition lawmakers say Lopez Obrador will not be able to muster a two-thirds majority in Congress needed to remove it.
In March, Lopez Obrador vetoed appointing two new INAI commissioners, effectively hamstringing it. To operate, INAI needs at least five active commissioners. It currently only has four following his veto and the retirement of another.
The ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) wants the Senate to approve various bills the lower house passed before the current session of Congress concludes this month, including planned changes to Mexico’s mining laws.
The opposition has made its participation contingent on MORENA agreeing to vote to appoint a new INAI commissioner so that it can keep operating. MORENA and its allies could still pass laws this weekend that only require a simple majority.
Since taking power in December 2018, Lopez Obrador has criticized prominent state-funded checks on his power as a waste of money. He argues many autonomous bodies are biased against him and were creations of past administrations he opposed.
The president says the government could handle information requests without the need for a separate institution.