Monday, July 12, 2004

Mexico's first lady rules out run for presidency

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (Reuters) -- Mexico's controversial first lady, Marta Sahagun, Monday ruled out running for president in 2006, ending speculation that has gripped the country for weeks.

"I want to affirm that I will not be a candidate for the presidency of the republic," Sahagun told reporters in a brief statement at the Los Pinos presidential palace.

Earlier hints by Sahagun that she might try to replace her husband President Vicente Fox when his term ends had angered the opposition and even Fox's own National Action Party.

One of Fox's chief aides quit last week, claiming Sahagun's "political flirtation" was getting in the way of running the country.

On a visit to Brazil last week, Fox was forced to deny that his government was in crisis over his wife's political ambitions.

The first lady has won plaudits for her charity work, although the attorney general is probing allegations that she used her influence to channel money from the National Lottery to institutions supported by her charitable foundation. She has denied the allegations.

Copyright 2004 Reuters.