February 25, 2013 in Nation/World

Castro says new five-year term as president will be his last

Tracy Wilkinson Los Angeles Times
Associated Press photo

Fidel Castro, left, and his brother, President Raul Castro, attend the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, on Sunday.
(Full-size photo)

MEXICO CITY – In one of the strongest portents yet of a post-Castro Cuba, President Raul Castro said Sunday his newly granted five-year term would be his last, and he took on a relatively young vice president who presumably could succeed him.

It was the first time a deadline had been put on the Castro era, which saw the island ruled by first Fidel and then Raul Castro for more than half a century since the 1959 revolution ousted an abusive, U.S.-backed regime.

Raul Castro was ratified as president for his second five-year term during a meeting of the Cuban parliament, which only convenes rarely to decide such matters. The congress also named Miguel Diaz-Canel, an engineer and former education official with an increasingly high profile, as Castro’s first vice president.

Castro is 81. Diaz-Canel is 52. Castro and other top Cuban officials, until now, had regularly been criticized for failing to promote younger future leaders, favoring instead older revolution-era cronies in senior positions in the Communist-led government.

Raul’s older brother Fidel, the historic leader of the Cuban revolution and the island nation’s commander for decades, stepped down in 2006 because of a near-fatal illness, and Raul formally assumed power in 2008.

Raul Castro has shown a pragmatic side, ordering important economic reforms that allowed a measure of free enterprise and the selling and buying of private property, as well as, this year, the lifting of long-standing restrictions on travel by Cuban citizens.

Castro also said he would propose term limits and retirement ages for the president and other top officials.

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