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The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A year to the day after his stunning election victory, President Vicente Fox surprised Mexico again Monday by marrying his spokeswoman and longtime love. The 6-foot-5 president capped the ceremony by bowing down to timidly kiss his 5-foot-2 bride.

The surprise wedding of Fox, who is divorced, and Martha Sahagun ended years of speculation about the couple and was cheered by Mexicans who had been pressing their president — voted one of the “25 most beautiful Latinos of 2001” by People magazine’s Spanish edition — to end his bachelor days.

Sahagun, 49, wore an embroidered ivory outfit and Fox, who turned 59 on Monday, wore a navy blue suit for the early-morning ceremony at his official residence, performed by a judge.

Sahagun announced that she would step down as spokeswoman and assume the duties of first lady. No honeymoon plans were announced. Fox’s eldest daughter — who did not attend the ceremony — had been acting first lady.

The ceremony was held on the one-year anniversary of Fox’s election victory, when he ended the 71-year reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Television and radio stations broke away from regular programming to air videotape of the ceremony, released afterward, and the marriage was the talk of Mexico.

“It’s a good thing because a lonely president isn’t the same as any other lonely citizen — he needs the support of a partner,” said Emilio Ruiz Trujillo, a lawyer walking through the main square in the southern city of San Cristobal de las Casas.

“When he leaves the country he needs a companion, a first lady,” said Irma Ceballos, 40, who runs a small clothing store in the northern town of Jerez. But with a sigh, she added: “We liked him better single. Now there’s one less single man.”

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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