As Mexico gears up for its Independence Day celebrations, protesters have taken to the streets of the capital to demand the president's resignation.

Thousands of people gathered in Mexico City on Thursday, demanding that Enrique Pena Nieto resign over his handling of drug violence, corruption and his recent meeting with Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump.

Demonstrators waving blackened flags of Mexico marched across the capital towards the Zocalo Square, where the president traditionally stands on a balcony of the National Palace the night before the holiday to replicate the "grito", or shout of independence, made in 1810.

Riot police stood near the Zocalo to block access to protesters, who marched under the rallying cry "resign now".

READ MORE: Mexico drug war fuels private security boom

Parents of 43 students missing since September 26, 2014, joined the protest, with people angry at the government's failure to solve the case almost two years after they were abducted by police and allegedly killed by a drug cartel.

Trump has angered Mexicans by demanding that the country pay for a border wall and describing migrants as rapists.

Other protests unfolded elsewhere, with hundreds demonstrating peacefully in the western city of Guadalajara.

But in the southern city of Oaxaca police used tear gas to repel teachers from a radical union opposed to Pena Nieto's education reform.

Mexicans claim police need to be policed

They responded by throwing rocks and launching fireworks at the officers. One person was injured.

Pena Nieto, who took office in December 2012, has seen his approval rating sink to 23 percent in a recent survey by Reforma newspaper.

He has been haunted by older scandals, notably the disappearance of the 43 students.

Pena Nieto has also come under fire over his wife's purchase of a mansion from a government contractor, prompting him to issue a rare apology although the couple denied any wrongdoing.

READ MORE: Donald Trump doubles down on deportation plan

In recent days, Mexican authorities have been investigating a bus driver's allegations that armed men abducted 15 passengers this week in the violence-plagued northern state of Tamaulipas.

An official in the federal attorney general's office, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly, told AFP news agency on Thursday the investigation was opened after "multiple media reports" and that "there was an order to investigate the list of passengers who travelled on the bus".

More than 28,000 people have been reported missing in Mexico in the past decade, including 5,700 in Tamaulipas alone.

Walls of Shame: The US-Mexican Border - Featured Documentary


Source: Agencies