Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ruled out trying to change the Brazilian constitution so that he can run a third time to the presidency of Brazil in 2010, but admitted that he might run for a third mandate in the 2014 elections. By then Lula would be 69.
Brazil's constitution doesn't allow the president to run consecutively for three terms, but there is nothing against a new candidacy after a four-year break.
In an interview with Brazil's most-read daily, Folha de S. Paulo on Sunday, October 14, Lula said that a decision to once again be a candidate will depend on the circumstances. "The alternation of power is an educating factor for building a democracy. Nobody is irreplaceable," he commented, adding:
"This thing, if it has to happen, it will depend on the circumstances at the time. Because I want to set an example as a former president: I want to leave the presidency and I don't intend to become aÂ meddler." The president has often criticized former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso for being a busybody.
Lula also revealed that he is in favor of an amendment to the constitution that would do away with reelection as long as the mandate is extended to five or six years instead of the present four-year period.
"A term of office of four years in Brazil is almost unmanageable,"he said. "Let's get rid of reelection and extend the term of office."
The president said he favors in the next 2010 presidential elections a unified candidate for the ruling party (PT, Workers Party) and its allies.
"It is natural that everyone thinks he should have his own candidate. But, between thinking and acting, there is a very big difference." And he added: "I have a support base with several parties. All my efforts will be towards a single candidacy. It is a dream. Will it become a reality? I don't know.
"If there are four candidates in the government's side, the government is going to be immobilized. Pretty soon we will have the PT fighting with the PMDB who will be fighting with the PSB, who will be fighting with the PC do B, who will be fighting with the PR, who will be fighting with the PDT.
"We will keep fighting between ourselves while our opponents will be left at ease. We need to get over our own internal fight and build the possibility of a single candidacy. There is the president's post, the vice president's, two senators, governors. There are posts for everybody."
Lula also defended former chief of staff, José Dirceu, who was the government's strong man before he resigned charged with orchestrating a scheme in which congressmen were paid a monthly allowance (mensalão) to vote in favor of measures proposed by the executive.
For Lula, Dirceu was not a traitor and he contributed "in an extraordinary manner" to the government until he made political mistakes. Talking about the mensalão, Lula told Folha that people still have to prove that such a scheme ever existed: "Until now there is no proof that even a cent of public money was used," the president said.
Lula will spend four days in Africa this week. He is leaving Brazil this Sunday night with a group of businessmen from the aviation, finance, energy and construction sectors. He is expected to sign agreements with Angola, South Africa, Congo and Burkina Faso, where the average income per capita is about US$ 300 a year.