South African President Thabo Mbeki has ruled out changing the country's constitution to allow him to stay in office when his term ends in 2009.

Mr. Mbeki told the South African Broadcasting Corporation Sunday that he will not seek a third term.

There had been speculation that he would use the huge majority in parliament of his African National Congress party to alter the current two term limit.

Mr. Mbeki said that by 2009, he will have held a senior government position for 15 years and that it is time "to step aside".

He is South Africa's second elected president after Nelson Mandela, winning re-election by a huge majority in 2004.

Political analysts say the race to succeed Mr. Mbeki remains wide open. Former deputy president Jacob Zuma, once regarded as the favorite, was fired by the president last year because of a corruption scandal.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.