independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Raul Castro hints he will retire

Cuba's president Raul Castro has hinted that he could retire (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

Cuban president Raul Castro has unexpectedly raised the possibility of leaving his post, saying that he is old and has a right to retire.

But he did not say when he might do so or if such a move was imminent.

The Cuban leader is scheduled to be named by parliament to a new five-year term on Sunday, and Mr Castro urged reporters to listen to his speech that day.

"I am going to resign," Mr Castro said at a joint appearance with visiting Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. "I am going to be 82 years old," Mr Castro added, a broad smile on his face. "I have the right to retire, don't you think?"

When reporters continued to shout questions about his plans for the next five years, Mr Castro replied: "Why are you so incredulous?"

He said to listen carefully on Sunday. "It will be an interesting speech," he said. "Pay attention."

Mr Castro's tone was light and his comments came in informal remarks at a mausoleum dedicated to soldiers from the former Soviet Union who have died around the world.

The Cuban leader has spoken before of his desire to implement a two-term limit for all Cuban government positions, including the presidency. He has also alluded to the limited time he has left to overhaul the island's weak Marxist economy.

That has led many to speculate that this upcoming term would be his last, though term limits have never been codified into Cuban law.

Most Havana residents had not heard about Mr Castro's comments, which had not been reported on Cuban television although footage from his appearance with Mr Medvedev was shown.

Press Association

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