Friday, October 26, 2007

Cuba's Alarcon uncertain on Castro's re-election

Reuters

Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:36pm EDT

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) - Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon said on Thursday it was impossible to say whether convalescing Fidel Castro would be in a condition to be re-elected next year as leader of the Communist island.

Castro, 81, who has not appeared in public for 15 months, is suffering from an undisclosed intestinal illness and handed over power to his brother Raul last year.

"I cannot predict whether he is going to be available to be president of the state, but I also cannot say whether I will keep being a lawmaker," Alarcon said during a news conference on a visit to Quito.

"Revolutionaries never retire," he said.

Alarcon said Castro was "rehabilitating and recuperating" while keeping up with political and economic developments in Cuba and overseas.

Cuba's assembly has to decide in March of next year whether Fidel Castro can be ratified as head of state. Many analysts believe a stable transfer of power to Raul Castro has already taken place.

Castro ceded power in July 2006 for the first time since his 1959 revolution after emergency surgery. He has appeared in pre-taped television interviews, but has given no indication whether he intends to return toe office.

Alarcon's comments came a day after U.S. President George W. Bush called Castro's government a "disgraced and dying order" and urged Cubans to push for democratic change. Cuban officials accuse Washington of trying to incite violence.

"This is just an illustration of delirium," Alarcon said, commenting on Bush's speech. "They will never have Cuba."

Every year since 1992, the U.N. General Assembly has told the White House to lift its economic embargo against Cuba. The next such vote is scheduled for next week.

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