Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro retires

Castro has announced :

he will not return to the presidency, in a letter published by official Communist Party paper, Granma.
"I neither will aspire to, nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," he wrote in the letter.

Mr Castro handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raul, in July 2006 when he underwent intestinal surgery.

The 81-year-old has ruled Cuba since leading a communist revolution in 1959.

In December, Mr Castro indicated that he might possibly step down in favour of younger leaders, saying "my primary duty is not to cling to any position".

In the letter, published on Granma's website during the middle of the night in Cuba, Mr Castro said he would not accept another five-year term as president when the National Assembly meets on Sunday, because of the health problems.

It would betray my conscience to take up a responsibility that requires mobility and total devotion, that I am not in a physical condition to offer," he wrote.

However, Mr Castro insisted he was "not saying farewell".

"My only wish is to fight as a soldier of ideas," he added. "I will continue writing under the title, Reflections of Comrade Fidel."

"I will be one more weapon in the arsenal that you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I will be careful."

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