May 15, 2007 / 6:28 PM / 13 years ago

Brazil's Lula says won't seek presidency again

BRASILIA (Reuters) - President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday he had no intention of running again for Brazil’s presidency after his term ends in 2010, but he wanted to pick a candidate to succeed him.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gestures during a news conference in Brasilia, May 15, 2007. REUTERS/Jamil Bittar

“I have no plans of becoming president of the republic again,” Lula, age 61, told a news conference. “There is nothing higher than this (job), it’s the maximum.”

Lula, who was elected to a second term by a landslide in 2006, said he instructed his party not to present proposals in Congress that would amend the constitution to allow his re-election in 2010. “It would be a provocation to Brazil’s democracy,” he said.

“I want to choose (my) successor and for a very simple reason that I want continuity for what we’re doing in the country,” Lula said during a rare formal news conference.

He said former presidents should withdraw from the scene, speak at conferences and tend to grandchildren.

Lula said his successor need not necessarily come from his ruling Workers’ Party, or PT, from which he distanced himself since a series of corruption scandals in 2005 and 2006.

In the remainder of his second term, Lula said he would be able to approve measures to accelerate economic growth and deepen income distribution because he had a larger support base in Congress than in the first term.

He would also seek opposition support to approve a financial transaction tax that expires at year-end and is needed to ensure a balanced budget.

“I don’t need to think about elections ... so I want to talk to all political parties,” Lula said.

Lula rejected isolated calls by business leaders to pressure the central bank to ease monetary policy more aggressively.

But he said the government could grant tax breaks to exporters hurting from an appreciating currency. It could also impose import duties to help protect some manufacturers from cheap Chinese imports.

Brazil will launch a diplomatic offensive at the Group of Eight countries’ meeting next month in Germany to promote its ethanol production and technology, the president said.

“I’m going to the G8 and when they open their mouths to talk about global warming I’ll be there with my (biofuels) package,” Lula said.

Lula, a former union leader, made three unsuccessful presidential bids before winning by landslides in 2002 and 2006.

The former factory worker helped bring down the 1964-85 military dictatorship by leading huge strikes in the late 1970s. After his election, he swapped left-wing rhetoric for market-friendly policies in government.

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