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Mexican lawmakers approve extending army's street presence until 2028

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Mexican National Guard and the Mexican army check a car at a military checkpoint, as part of a security operation to reduce violence, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, September 9, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo

Mexico's Chamber of Deputies on Thursday approved extending the role of the armed forces in public security tasks until 2028, a move seen by critics as another step in the militarization of the country.

The motion on the military's deployment, approved by a majority and backed previously by the lower chamber, had been due to expire in 2024 but is now set to carry through to 2028.

Lucy Meza, a senator from the ruling Morena party, said on Wednesday that the extension was necessary to ensure a timely and effective effort to tackle the country's security issues and violence.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador promised to return the military to their barracks while running for office in 2018, but later said he had changed his mind, arguing a need to tackle organized crime.

It is the second boost to the military's power in weeks. In early September, Congress approved giving the army control over the National Guard, a military police force created in 2019.

The army has high public approval of around 80%, according to polls, but it has been involved in several cases of alleged human rights abuses and violations.

Lopez Obrador has boasted of having reduced the monthly number of homicides, but his term is still set to be the most violent in Mexico's modern history.

(Reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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