MEXICO CITY (AP) – President Vicente Fox’s chief of staff resigned on Monday, a stunning announcement that indicated even the Mexican leader’s most trusted staff have become disillusioned with his administration and his wife’s possible campaign to succeed him.

Alfonso Durazo turned in a 19-page letter saying he objected to first lady Marta Sahagun’s presidential ambitions and claiming the administration was repeating some of the vices of the old ruling party that Fox unseated after seven decades in power.

“The desire for a government to decide who the next president will be or won’t be was the original sin of the old regime,” Durazo wrote in the resignation letter, dated June 22. “It is my conviction that that the issue of presidential succession is operating more under the logic of the old regime than that of a government of transition.”

He was referring to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which held Mexico’s presidency without interruption from 1929 until Fox defeated it in the polls in 2000. Under the PRI, the outgoing president named his party’s presidential nominee, who invariably went on to win the vote.

The criticism was especially cutting because Fox has billed his administration as “the government of change” that would abolish old, undemocratic practices. He is limited by the constitution to one six-year term in office.

The letter added to criticism swirling around Sahagun, who has faced allegations that the private charity foundation she runs has received hidden government funding.

“The country has certainly advanced politically, enough that it is ready for a woman to reach the presidency of the republic,” Durazo said. “Nonetheless, it is not prepared to have the president leave the presidency to his wife.”

The president’s office issued a statement saying that it “does not share either the points of view or the reasons” cited by Durazo.

Fox told reporters late Monday that Emilio Goicoechea Luna, a business chamber leader and senator, would become private secretary and that Ruben Aguilar Valenzuela, who had headed an analysis unit at the presidency, would be spokesman.

“I am sure that his lengthy public experience and his outstanding past performance mean Emilio Goicoechea will do a remarkable job in the post he takes over today,” the president said without taking questions.

Fox has been unwilling or unable to curb the ambitions of Sahagun. She has neither formally declared her candidacy nor ruled it out, but she continues to crisscross the country handing out donations from her Vamos Mexico foundation.

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