Raul Castro elected president of Cuba

Cuban army general Raul Castro was elected the new president of Cuba on Sunday during a legislative session held at Cuba's Palace of Conventions in Havana.

Raul Castro elected president of Cuba
Raul said his older brother Fidel Castro would remain a key figure and vowed to be on guard against U.S. "meddling" as he assumed the presidency.

"We have taken note of the offensive and openly meddling declarations by the empire and some of its closest allies," the new Cuban leader said.

"I am assuming the responsibility entrusted to me with the conviction that the commander-in-chief of the Cuban revolution remains unique. Fidel is Fidel," said Raul, during his acceptance speech at the seventh session of Cuba's legislature, the National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP).

"Today a more compact and functional structure is needed," Raul,76, told the ANPP, adding that Cuba needs "a smaller number of central administration bodies and a better distribution of their functions. We have to make our government more efficient."

On Sunday, 597 deputies unanimously elected a 31-member Council of State for a term of five years, which in turn elected Raul as president of the country.

There were 17 absences from the 614 deputies elected to the ANPP in January. These included Fidel Castro, who has not been seen in public since he handed over power provisionally to Raul inJuly 2006 in order to recover from intestinal surgery.

On Feb. 19, Fidel resigned as president, saying in a statement that due to illness he would not aspire to or accept such a post.

During Sunday's speech, Raul described his brother as "irreplaceable," adding that Fidel would be consulted on "decisions of fundamental importance for the nation's future, including defense, foreign policy and socio-economic development."

The council elected Jose Ramon Machado Ventura as first vice president. And the ANPP also reelected Ricardo Alarcon, 70, as leader of the legislature, a post he has held since 1993.

It is reported that around 63 percent of the 2008 ANPP are new deputies, and the average age of the chamber's members is 49. Just over 78 percent of them have higher degrees while nearly 36 percent are black or of mixed-race.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Şubat 2008, 14:33