BRASILIA, Brazil, April 16 (UPI) -- Brazil's former president squashed rumors Friday that he would pursue a third term in 2006.
Having already governed for two terms from 1995-2002, Fernando Henrique Cardoso told reporters he is "not a candidate."
Instead, he put forth several names of candidates from his once leading Social Democratic Party, including the governors from the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais, as well as the 2002 contender, former Health Minister Jose Serra.
Cardoso's recent criticism of Brazil's current administration fueled rumors that he was planning a return.
This week's edition of the leading news magazine "Veja" features an article about a group of Cardoso supporters working toward his return, calling their effort "Project Phoenix," named after the mythical bird that is reborn from its own ashes.
The notion of Cardoso candidacy comes amid troubling times for current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated Cardoso's handpicked successor Serra in the October 2002 election.
Lula's administration is facing its first major political scandal and criticism of its economic team. Last year Brazil's economy shrank by 0.2 percent and unemployment rose to 12 percent.