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Thousands protest Mexico election watchdog cuts

STORY: Huge crowds turned out for rallies across Mexico on Sunday to protest moves to overhaul elections there.

Mexico City was host to the biggest -- what organizers say was some 500,000 people, though local officials say it was closer to 90,000.

It appeared to be the largest protest yet against President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

They’re unhappy lawmakers voted last week to slash the budget of the country’s election commission.

Mexico’s president calls the group corrupt, but protesters in opposition say the vote was an attack on democracy.

“This is the march where hundreds of thousands of citizens from across the country, representing millions, are defending democracy and confirming our trust in the judiciary to vote against the overhaul, which intends to load the dice in favor of the president’s party and take away our right to vote freely."

The president denies that the new changes to the National Electoral Institute, or INE, will weaken Mexican democracy.

However, critics have vowed to take the legislation cutting the INE’s funding and staff to the Supreme Court.

Many political analysts say the INE played a key role in ending Mexico’s decades of one-party rule.

Lopez Obrador contends he was robbed of the presidency twice before a crushing victory in 2018.

He has weakened other independent bodies that check his power on the grounds of cost-saving and says shaking up the INE will save $150 million a year.

He also argues the INE favors his opponents, which the institute denies.