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A wistful Uribe bids Colombians adios

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's term ends in two days
  • "I tried to carry out, in the best way, this big responsibility," he says
  • Uribe is leaving "seeds" that he hopes will define his legacy

(CNN) -- A humble, sometimes wistful Alvaro Uribe bid Colombians adios Thursday, two days before his two terms and eight years as president are to end.

"I tried to carry out in the best way this big responsibility," he said in a 16-minute televised address during which he praised Vice President Francisco Santos as loyal and frank, and the members of his administration as honorable.

Uribe, 58, who gained plaudits for weakening the guerrilla movement that had controlled much of the country, said he was leaving seeds he hoped would take root and grow, one of them being "a country convinced that security is possible; that we have to recover security fully."

Uribe said he is leaving another seed -- "a country convinced that Colombia is a great destination for investment; that investment with brotherhood is the only road to employment."

Employment, linked to social security, is the way to overcome poverty and to build equity, he said.

Yet another seed: "A country convinced that it is possible to advance in social class."

Uribe praised Colombia's workers as "excellent" and said the international community has come to regard them that way too.

The president, who was denied running yet again by term limits, described his eight years of dialogue with Colombians as "a heaven on earth."

And he asked that his countrymen pardon him for any mistakes or failures that may have occurred under his watch. "The errors are mine," he said.

Finally, Uribe asked Colombians to support Juan Manuel Santos, his former minister of national defense, who is to succeed him for the next term. "I hope that it will be a period of great prosperity for the country," he said.