independent

Friday 25 April 2014

Fidel makes rare public appearance

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro attends the opening session of the National Assembly of the People's Power with brother Raul in Havana

Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro made a rare public appearance as he took his long-empty seat beside brother Raul Castro at the opening session of the National Assembly.

Fidel Castro has graced the assembly chambers just once, in 2010, since taking ill in 2006 and ceding power to his brother.

The man referred to as the "historic leader of the Revolution" has maintained a public presence through rare public appearances, but he is no longer seen as wielding real power. He has given up all his official positions except his deputy spot.

The parliament had reconvened with a new membership and was expected to name Raul Castro to a new five-year term as president. All were watching whether younger politicians might be tapped for other top leadership posts, providing hints of a possible future successor.

Raul Castro fuelled speculation on Friday when he talked of his possible retirement and suggested he has plans to resign.

If a fresh face is named as one of his top deputies, it could indicate that his administration is settling on who might carry the country forward.

Raul Castro turns 82 this year and his top two lieutenants are also in their 80s.

"This National Assembly is important because it is going to govern the fate of the country for the next five years, which will be decisive for changing personnel – the intergenerational transition," said Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban economist and analyst.

Irish Independent

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