Mexican football star Cuauhtemoc Blanco said Saturday he has gone on a hunger strike to defend his mayorship of the city of Cuernavaca.
Blanco began sitting outside the city’s cathedral before dawn underneath a banner reading “respect the votes of the citizens.”
Blanco was elected to the mayorship last year, despite his lack of previous political experience.
Since then scandals have surfaced, including allegations he was paid to run on the ticket of a tiny political party.
The state congress has voted to start an impeachment process against him, saying he violated election procedures, including not proving his residency in Cuernavaca, which is located south of Mexico City.
The lawmakers also accused him of bypassing the city council and accepting irregular donations, like an offer to pave some city streets.
The state supreme court on Saturday designated a three-justice panel to hear the case It is not clear when that panel would rule.
Blanco said later Saturday that state-controlled police had seized the city hall and treasury department, preventing citizens from paying taxes and filing for permits.
Blanco said he was receiving support from businessmen, civic groups and transport workers in his struggle to stay in office.
The 42-year-old former national team star retired from sports last year. He also played a stint with the Chicago Fire in the MLS.
Blanco displayed the well-known pugnaciousness that made him a hard-fighting soccer forward.
“I am not going to back down,” he said quietly as a he sat swathed in a winter jacket and jeans on a sidewalk outside the cathedral.
On his Facebook page, Blanco wrote, “They are persecuting me because I reported acts of corruption and abuse of authority.”
Cuernavaca is the capital of Morelos state, which has been riven by protests and drug gang violence