Raul Castro resigns as head of Cuba's Communist Party

TEHRAN, Apr. 17 (MNA) – Raul Castro said Friday he is resigning as head of Cuba's Communist Party, ending an era of leadership that began with his brother Fidel and the country's 1959 revolution.

The 89-year-old Castro made the announcement in a speech at the opening of the eighth congress of the ruling party, the only one allowed on the island, CBS News reported.

He said he was retiring with the sense of having "fulfilled his mission and confidence in the future of the fatherland."

"Nothing, nothing, nothing is forcing me to make this decision," Castro said in his speech to the closed Congress, part of which was aired on state television. "As long as I live I will be ready with my foot in the stirrup to defend the homeland, the revolution, and socialism with more force than ever."

Castro didn't say who he would endorse as his successor as the first secretary of the Communist Party. But he previously indicated he favors yielding control to 60-year-old Miguel Díaz-Canel, who succeeded him as president in 2018 and is the standard-bearer of a younger generation of loyalists who have been pushing an economic opening without touching Cuba's one-party system.

Photographs released by the official Cuban News Agency showed Castro, dressed in an olive-green uniform, entering the compound with Díaz-Canel by his side.

RHM/PR

News Code 172195

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