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Mexico names army general to lead new National Guard

AFP  |  Mexico City 

named an general Thursday to command Mexico's new National Guard, brushing aside critics who warn the move risks permanently militarising the country.

will be the of the 80,000-strong National Guard, which is due to take over policing duties that gave to the military in 2006, when the government declared war on the country's powerful drug cartels.

The is Lopez Obrador's key strategy to fight a wave of violence that has engulfed since the military deployment began.

But opponents and rights activists warn it could make things worse.

said the new force would focus on "guaranteeing public security where people live," rather than taking down cartel kingpins.

"That is the change we want to make, defending human rights and the regulated use of force in the process," he said.

The military has been accused of committing gross human-rights violations since being deployed to fight crime.

Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, vowed during his presidential campaign last year to remove the from the streets.

Once in office, though, he said forces did not have the capacity to do the job alone, and proposed the as a solution.

In order to get his reform through Congress, where it needed a two-thirds majority, he agreed to water down the military component of his initial proposal, putting the new force under the security rather than the defense ministry.

In an effort to win over critics, the government also signed an agreement this week with UN for Human Rights under which the will advise the new force on safeguarding human rights.

Rodriguez, 62, is a 45-year veteran of the security forces.

He is currently of the at the Organisation of American States in Washington, and previously headed Mexico's anti-drug trafficking investigation unit.

has registered nearly 250,000 murders since deploying the to fight drug trafficking in December 2006, including a record of more than 33,000 last year, as the newly fragmented cartels battle the military and each other, with widespread collateral damage.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 11 2019. 21:05 IST