Brazil environmental icon to form a new party

Environmental icon and former senator Marina Silva will set up a new party Saturday, one year before Brazil's presidential elections, an aide said Friday.

Silva, 55, won a surprising 20 million votes -- 19 percent of the total -- in a first round of voting when she ran for president in 2010.

President Dilma Rousseff, from the leftist Worker's Party, won the subsequent run-off vote in a race against a right-wing rival.

Silva's party will push for "a sustainable future and seek to break the monopoly of traditional political parties," said Pedro Ivo Batista, who is helping set up the new organization.

Batista said the still-unnamed party plans to tap the strength of social networks where Silva is extremely popular.

"We want a new way of conducting politics, bring politics to the people, use the networks of civil society," he added.

A figurehead of Brazil's environmental movement, Silva has been a tireless fighter for the protection of the Amazon rainforest.

A member of ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's Worker's Party until 2009, Silva served in his cabinet as environment minister for five years from 2003. She later joined the Green Party.

Born into a family of rubber tappers in the northern state of Acre, she was a colleague of Chico Mendes, the environmental pioneer who was assassinated for defending the Amazon environment.