Castro Stepping Down as Cuban Leader

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) - Fidel Castro may be resigning -- but he probably isn't going away.

Castro remains a member of the Cuban parliament and is likely to be elected to the 31-member Council of State on Sunday, though he will no longer be its president.

The 81-year-old leader announced in a letter posted online early Tuesday that he will not accept a new term as president. He said that he wanted to continue carrying out his duties to his "last breath" but he's no longer up to it physically.

Castro hasn't appeared in public since handing power to his brother Raul and undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006. The only images of him have been official photographs and videotapes. He's also published some essays.

Castro has been Cuba's unchallenged leader since 1959. Monarchs excepted, he is the world's longest ruling head of state.

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