Fidel Castro steps down from power

February 19th, 2008 - 3:59 pm ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)
Havana, Feb 19 (DPA) Cuban leader Fidel Castro Tuesday renounced his presidency and military leadership of Cuba, after more than a year of illness and absence from the job. In the Communist Party daily Granma, Castro said he would not “accept” or “aspire to” the posts of head of state or commander in chief when the new Cuban National Assembly holds its first meeting Sunday.

The National Assembly is due to meet on Feb 24 to elect a new head of state.

Castro, 81, had “temporarily” given up power to his younger brother Raul on July 31, 2006 to recover from surgery for an unspecified intestinal problem.

He had not returned to the Cuban leadership or been seen in public since then, although he has received distinguished visitors and been busy for months expressing his opinion on various matters on a regular basis, in articles published under his name in Cuban media.

Castro is one of the key figures in 20th-century Latin America, the object of praise and criticism during his near half-century, iron-handed transformation of and rule over Cuba.

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