Raul Castro leaves Fidel behind in Cuba poll

Raul Castro leaves Fidel behind in Cuba poll
# 31 January 2008 11:31 (UTC +04:00)
Raul Castro, 76, won 99.3 percent of the ballots in his race while Fidel Castro won 98.2 percent, official media in the Americas’ only one-party communist state said.
The news comes as Cubans are anxious for news on whether Fidel Castro, 81, would resume power or formally step aside.
Interim president Raul Castro said January 20 the National Assembly would elect Cuba’s next president February 24, amid speculation Fidel Castro might not be its choice for the first time in almost five decades.
Fidel Castro was among 614 uncontested candidates for the legislature in the uncontested January elections which will name 31 lawmakers to the Council of State that chooses the president.
Cuba’s National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon has said that while his recovery is ongoing, it is up to Fidel Castro to decide whether he will stay on as president, if reelected in February.
Some speculate Raul Castro might become president on a permanent basis or that another top regime official might move up the ladder technically ending Fidel Castro’s official dominance of the regime. Few, however, doubt Fidel would remain influential in the latter case.
While Fidel Castro appears to be in better health than a year ago, many Cuba-watchers believe he will not be able to resume the full, wide-ranging powers he used to wield.
Some analysts believe he might continue to remain head of state on paper, essentially acting as a kind of behind-the-scenes guardian of the 1959 revolution while leaving other top communist officials to deal with the day-to-day work. Others do not rule out the possibility he could step aside before or on February 24. /APA/
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