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Mexico's First Lady Says She Will Not Run for President - 2004-07-12

Mexican President Vicente Fox's wife, Marta Sahagun, has publicly announced that she will not seek the presidency when his term ends in December 2006. There was widespread speculation that the first lady would try to succeed her husband.

The short official announcement, made at the presidential palace, Los Pinos, by the first lady herself, ends months of speculation that she would run for the top job. She said she wanted to confirm that she will not be a candidate and will go home with Mr. Fox to the family ranch when his term expires at the end of the year. He is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term.

Opinion polls clearly showed that she would have featured very strongly in the next presidential election in 2006. Only the left-wing mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is currently more popular.

Unlike most Mexican first ladies, she has not chosen to stay out of the limelight. She has even launched a high-profile charity called Vamos Mexico, or Let's go Mexico. However, the charity is now being investigated by the attorney general amid accusations that money from the national lottery was wrongly directed to its projects.

Critics have accused her of using the charity as a vehicle for her political aspirations, and argued that it would be ethically wrong for her to use the charity as part of an effort to succeed her husband. Ms. Sagahun has denied any wrongdoing.

She has also come under criticism from the man who, until a week ago, was President Fox's official spokesman, Alfonso Durazo. Mr. Durazo resigned last week and in his letter accused Ms. Sagahun of constantly meddling in the day-to-day running of the country.

In her statement on Monday, the first lady said that she has never intervened in decisions that belong only to the president of the republic.

No woman has ever been president of Mexico, a fact that Ms. Sagahun also alluded to in her statement. Mexico, she said, is ready to be governed by a woman.