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Mexico's austere president-elect plays down aide's lavish wedding

FILE PHOTO - Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a rally as part of a tour to thank supporters for his victory in the July 1 election, in Mexico City, Mexico September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero

(reuters_tickers)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's famously austere President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday sought to minimize criticism of a top aide's extravagant wedding party, saying his enemies are looking for any excuse to attack him.

Wedding photos of Dulce Silva and Cesar Yanez, Lopez Obrador's former press aide who will take a key role in the presidential office, were splashed on the cover and across 19 pages of the Mexican edition of Spanish-language society magazine Hola! published on Thursday.

The event, which was attended by 600 guests - including Lopez Obrador, members of his cabinet and social elite - featured a dinner with a menu of lobster and decorations of thousands of white roses and orchids.

Lopez Obrador, who ran on the ticket of a leftist party he founded, defeated the ruling party by a landslide in July's election by capitalizing on the discontent of Mexicans fed up with widespread corruption, poverty and surging violence.

The magazine spread sparked jeering on social media from many Mexicans who said the event suggested Lopez Obrador's entourage may end up seeking the same privileges enjoyed by the ruling party they blasted during the campaign.

"What is Cesar Yanez thinking? I believed that his critics exaggerated. I must confess that I had not grasped the magnitude of ... frivolity until I saw the cover of the Hola!" Rafael Barajas, a political cartoonist for the leftist Jornada newspaper said on Twitter.

Lopez Obrador responded by distancing himself from the affair.

"Well, I did not get married. I was invited, I attended. Everyone is responsible for their own actions," he told reporters, pointing out that it was not a government function but a private social event.

"Of course our adversaries are questioning because they are looking for any possible error to criticise us," he said. "They have the right to do it ... we will continue acting with integrity, with principles, with honesty and republican austerity."

Lopez Obrador, who is driven around in a economy car and has pledged to sell the presidential jet, has promised to slash government salaries and official privileges in order to boost spending on infrastructure projects and social programs.

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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