MEXICO CITY (AP) – First lady Marta Sahagun on Monday ruled out plans to seek the presidency on her own in 2006, ending speculation that at times has overshadowed the actions of her husband, Vicente Fox.

“I will not be a candidate for presidency of the republic,” Sahagun said in an announcement at the presidential residence of Los Pinos.

“We will go home together” when Fox’s term ends on Dec. 1, 2006, she said. She refused to take questions.

Fox said last week that his wife had no plan to seek the presidency.

Sahagun has been compared to a conservative Hillary Clinton, both for her ambitions and for the criticism focused upon her.

She had long toyed openly with the idea of a presidential run.

Critics complained she was unfairly using her position as first lady as a presidential springboard – a sensitive issue in Mexico, which is trying to escape from a legacy of presidents choosing their successors and where the constitution limits them to one term.

The private charitable foundation she heads, Vamos Mexico, also has been accused of spending too much on administration, of receiving improper favors from the government, and of serving as a vehicle to promote her.

Yet most polls have shown that she is the most popular possible presidential contender within Fox’s National Action Party.

Monday’s declaration seems to have been prompted by fierce criticism in a July 5 resignation letter by Fox’s chief of staff, Alfonso Durazo.

“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.”

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