Cuba to name new leader to succeed Castro

Cuba's rubber-stamp National Assembly will name Fidel Castro's successor on Sunday, ending the 49-year rule of the bearded revolutionary who turned Cuba into a communist state on America's doorstep.

Cuba to name new leader to succeed Castro
His brother Raul Castro, who has been running Cuba since the 81-year-old leader was sidelined by illness 19 months ago, is widely expected to become the next president.

The 614-member legislature meets at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT). An announcement on composition of the Council of State, the island's highest executive body, is expected in the afternoon.

Fidel Castro, who has aged from a military fatigue-clad commander in chief who gave seven-hour speeches under the Caribbean sun into a shuffling old man, has not appeared in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006.

He will retain significant but potentially waning influence as first secretary of the ruling Communist Party.

Castro announced his retirement as president last Tuesday, almost half a century after he ousted a U.S.-backed dictator in an armed revolution and began to create a persona that would turn him into an icon of the left.

He said he was too weakened by his undisclosed illness to continue governing but would soldier on in the "battle of ideas" by writing articles.

Anti-Castro exiles and U.S. President George W. Bush have led calls for democratic reform on the island.

But in the streets of the capital Havana, the mood is more of indifference than expectation of political changes. Few think that with Fidel Castro gone the West's last communist state will crumble swiftly like many Soviet allies did.

Some of his staunchest supporters think he is still the unquestionable "leader of the revolution" and will continue pulling the strings of power.

"He has not left power. Fidel will never resign from revolution and power. What he is doing is resigning his posts, like the Che (Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Guevara) did," said Alejandro Ferras, 87, who followed Castro into the near suicidal attack on the Moncada army barracks in 1953.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Şubat 2008, 11:47