MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's Senate elected veteran lawman Alejandro Gertz Manero on Friday as the country's new attorney general, a post that is now more independent and runs for a nine-year term.

Gertz Manero was selected overwhelmingly by the Senate from a series of possible candidates proposed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Previously, the president had named the attorney general, who was ratified by the senate for an undetermined term.

Gertz Manero, 79, is a lawyer and law professor who has served in law enforcement roles since the 1970s. He served as the top federal police official in the 2000s, and as the top Mexico City police official.

The top prosecutor's office has been vacant since late 2017; Gertz Manero had been appointed as acting attorney general after Lopez Obrador took office on Dec. 1.

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Gertz Manero had been criticized as being too close to Lopez Obrador, especially among those who wanted the new, re-vamped attorney general's post to be more independent.

"Priority was given to closeness, and the use of practices that don't contribute to the transformation of the country that we deserve," wrote Mexico Evalua, a transparency group.

But despite Lopez Obrador's comments that he would not delve too deeply into corruption cases from past administrations, Gertz Manero said all on-going prosecutions would continue.

"All of the pending cases are going to be pursued to their legal conclusion," Gertz Manero said after his election in the Senate.