Sunday, July 11, 2004

Mexico's ex-energy secretary seeking presidency

Calderon resigned post after election-related dispute with Fox

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- Former Energy Secretary Felipe Calderon declared his intention Sunday to run for Mexico's presidency, weeks after talk of the candidacy provoked his resignation.

Calderon resigned as energy secretary May 31 after being scolded by President Vicente Fox for appearing to launch an early presidential campaign.

Mexican law prohibits Fox from running for a second term in 2006.

Calderon said he will seek the nomination of Fox's National Action Party, or PAN, the Mexican government news agency Notimex said. Calderon and campaign officials could not be reached for comment.

A native of the western state of Michoacan, Calderon once served as national director of the PAN and expressed pride in his work with the Fox administration -- despite the dispute with the president.

The announcement was made at a rally in Mexico City attended by supporters, including Jalisco Gov. Francisco Ramirez.

Fox had chided Calderon for appearing at an earlier event organized by supporters of his bid for president.

Sen. Carlos Medina Plascencia became the first declared contender for the PAN nomination earlier this year.

A speech last week by first lady Marta Sahagun stoked speculation in Mexico that the president's wife and former media aide may run for president in 2006.

Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador continues to lead public opinion polls regarding potential presidential candidates, though he has not declared.

Public declarations of candidacies were discouraged in Mexico during the 71-year rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, when presidents hand-picked their successors. But that changed with the election in 2000 of Fox, who declared his primary candidacy three years before final elections.

Candidates for 2006 already include Zacatecas state Gov. Ricardo Monreal of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, former assistant Attorney General Everardo Moreno Cruz of the PRI, and former Foreign Relations Secretary Jorge Castanedas.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.