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Fidel Castro Retires as Cuban President

By Sean Maroney
Washington
19 February 2008

Fidel Castro has resigned as Cuba's president, ending his nearly 50-year rule of the Caribbean nation. VOA's Sean Maroney reports with details from Washington.

The newspaper Granma quotes Mr. Castro as saying he will not aspire to nor accept another term as president when the country's newly-elected National Assembly meets, Sunday.

Fidel Castro has not appeared in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July, 2006. Since then, his brother Raul has served as acting president.

As the 81-year-old leader ages, rumors have circulated about the state of his health. Since ceding power to his brother, Mr. Castro has been seen in photographs and videos. He has not had any public appearances.

Mr. Castro said in a December letter that he did not want to stay in power forever. He wrote that his duty is not to hold on to positions or block the path of younger people, but to share the experiences and ideas from his life.

The Cuban leader has forged close ties with Bolivian President Evo Morales as well as Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez. Mr. Chavez has made several trips to visit the ailing leader and has sold 53,000 barrels of crude oil daily to Havana at below-market prices.

The Cuban leader seized power in a 1959 revolution against dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Speaking during his trip to Rwanda, U.S. President George Bush said he now hopes for the beginning of a democratic transition in Cuba.



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