Fidel Castro to relinquish seat, vote for new president from home

Other News Materials 24 February 2008 20:59 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro was set Sunday to relinquish his position as a member of Cuba's new National Assembly and elect his successor from the secret location where he is recovering from an unspecified intestinal problem.

Castro, 81, announced Tuesday that he will neither "aspire to" nor "accept" the positions of president and commander in chief which he held for decades.

The 614 members of Cuba's National Assembly - elected on January 20 and including both Fidel Castro and his younger brother, acting Cuban leader Raul Castro - met Sunday to elect the members of the country's 31-member Council of State. The council's president is the Cuban head of state and head of government.

Two members of the outgoing Council of State had visited "comrade Fidel to validate his election certificate as legislator, take his oath and took, in a sealed envelope, the slips for him to exercise his right to vote," National Electoral Commission President Maria Esther Reus said Sunday.

The move was approved by the new National Assembly amid applause.

Raul Castro, 76, Cuba's long-time defence minister, is seen as the favourite to head Cuba. On Sunday, he was in attendance at the first session of the new legislature at the Palacio de Convenciones in Havana, wearing a dark suit and tie.