Rome: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi confirmed on Friday that he will not run in the next elections in 2013 and will hand over the reigns of his party to Justice Minister Angelino Alfano.
"I will not be a candidate for the post of prime minister in the next elections," the 74-year old media mogul said in an interview with the left-wing Repubblica newspaper.
"The centre-right candidate will be Alfano. If I could I would already give it up,"he added.Berlusconi said he intends to participate in the campaign"to help"Alfano and play the"noble father."
"But at 77-years old I could not be prime minister," he said.
The premier had already suggested that he would not stand again last April, during a dinner with foreign journalists, when he said he did not plan to have any "operative role" in the elections. Weakened by a humiliating setback in the local elections at the end of May -- when his Party of Freedom (PDL) candidate was ousted from her mayoral post -- Berlusconi confirmed the 41-year old Alfano as his successor.
It was the first time since entering office in 1994 that the billionaire premier had named someone to head up his party.
Berlusconi said that he had no intention of setting his sights on becoming President of Italy, as some had suggested, adding that he would like to see Gianni Letta -- one of his most faithful lieutenants -- in the post.