Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Friday that he does not rule out running for Brazil's highest office again in 2018.

"In politics we can never say never. It's not my wish, I believe I have already made my contribution to the country. I don't know what the political circumstances will be in 2018 or what new names will be on the ballot until then - I hope there are a lot of competent people and I won't have to take part," the former head of state said.

Lula, who in 2018 will turn 72, is now focused on helping protege Dilma Rousseff win a second term is this year's presidential ballot.

In an interview with the daily A Cidade de Ribeirao Preto, a city in Sao Paulo state, Lula spoke of starting his 2014 campaigning activities.

On Saturday he will take part in the first motorcades of his Workers Party in support of the gubernatorial candidacy of Alexandre Padilha, who served in Lula's 2003-2011 administration and was Rousseff's health minister up until last week.

Sao Paulo's incumbent governor, Geraldo Alckmin of the main opposition PSDB party, is favored to win re-election.

Asked whether the jail sentences for corruption meted out to ex-leaders of the Workers Party will influence the electorate in Sao Paulo, the richest state in the country, Lula replied that "whoever underestimates the people is mistaken."

The people, he said, "know how to separate things, the sentences from the elections." EFE