Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil's Lula bids farewell at end of presidential term

President Lula and his successor Dilma Rousseff give the thumbs up Image copyright AP
Image caption Lula said Dilma would be a president worthy of the "new" Brazil

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has hailed his eight-year record as leader of South America's biggest country, days before he steps down.

In a traditional Christmas address, President Lula said he had shown it was possible to govern in the interests of all Brazilians, not just the wealthy.

He urged Brazilians to back his successor, Dilma Rousseff, who takes over the presidency on 1 January.

President Lula, 65, is leaving office with approval ratings of over 80%.

"Today, all Brazilian men and women believe more in their country and themselves. This is a collective victory for all of us," he said in an emotional televised speech.

He listed his achievements in reducing poverty and promoting sustained economic growth, as well as slowing deforestation.

He also stressed major projects, including the construction of new hydroelectric power stations and the development of massive offshore oil fields, saying they would "change the course" of Brazilian history.

And he gave his full backing to his successor, his former chief-of-staff, Dilma Rousseff, saying he hoped she would make Brazil "one of the most egalitarian countries in the world".

Future plans

Lula, a former metalworker and trade unionist, did not reveal his plans after leaving the presidency.

"Don't ask about my future, because you have already given me a great present. Look instead to the future of Brazil, and believe in it," he said.

"I am leaving government to live life on the streets. Man of the people that I always was, I will be more of the people than ever before."

Lula had to stand down under Brazil's constitution after serving the maximum of two consecutive terms, but he has not ruled out standing for president again in the future.

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