updated 8/27/2006 2:44:26 PM ET 2006-08-27T18:44:26

The candidate of Mexico's top leftist force won the governor's race in the volatile southern state of Chiapas, edging a hopeful backed by President Vicente Fox's party by about 6,300 votes, electoral officials said Sunday.

Following a tense, two-hour session, Chiapas' electoral council announced the official results from the Aug. 20 election, giving Juan Sabinas, of the Democratic Revolution Party, 553,270 votes, compared to 546,988 for Jose Antonio Aguilar, who was running with the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which controlled Mexico's presidency from 1929 until 2000.

Institutional Revolutionary officials immediately said they would challenge the results in court.

Aguilar, a 56-year-old former federal senator, was also supported by Fox's conservative National Action Party as the result of a last-minute alliance to try to defeat Sabines, a 38-year-old former Tuxtla Gutierrez mayor. He has claimed the election was tainted by government meddling, vote buying and other irregularities.

If the Chiapas results are challenged legally, they could mirror Mexico's disputed presidential election from July 2 -- but with the roles of the leftist and conservative parties reversed.

Initial presidential-election results gave National Action Party candidate Felipe Calderon a slight advantage of about 240,000 votes, or about 0.6 percent of all ballots cast, over leftist, former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Lopez Obrador claims improper campaigning, illicit funding from the Fox administration and widespread electoral fraud swayed the election results in Calderon's favor. Meanwhile, National Action has filed its own challenges seeking to increase its candidate's tiny advantage.

Mexico's Federal Electoral Tribunal is weighing the challenges and has until Sept. 6 to declare a president-elect or annul the vote.

Thousands of Lopez Obrador supporters have set up a sprawling protest camps in downtown Mexico City, demanding a vote-by-vote recount they say will show their candidate was the presidential race's rightful winner.

Addressing a large crowd in the capital's historic central plaza Sunday, Lopez Obrador cheered the final results of the Chiapas election and again claimed he was the rightful winner of the presidential race.

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