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Cuba

Castro promises to limit time in power

Reuters/Desmond Boylan

Cuban President Raul Castro says he wants to limit top political positions to two five-year terms. The measure will apply to Castro himself, he told the opening of the Communist Party congress on Saturday.

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It is “in our interest to limit to a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms service in top state and political roles,” Castro said, adding that the reform was both “possible and necessary”.

He admitted that Cubans’ confidence in the Communist Party and the revolution had been tested, and that it was necessary to “rectify errors”.

“Today we face the consequences of not having a back bench of adequately prepared replacements who have enough experience and maturity to take on the new and complex duties of managing the party, state and government,” Castro said.

He also promised economic reforms, including a reduction in social spending, but pledged that the fundamentals of the communist revolution – free education and healthcare and a ban on the accumulation of property – would remain untouched.

Raul Castro took over from his older brother Fidel in 2008. Between them they have ruled Cuba for 52 years.

The Communist party congress is the first to be held for 14 years. It will elect the party’s new 100-member central committee, plus the smaller politburo and secretariat.

Delegates are also expected to officially transfer party leadership from Fidel to Raul. Fidel has headed the party since its creation in 1965, but announced last month that he had resigned the post because of ill health.

Fidel Castro, now 84, did not attend the congress or the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs landing, in which the Cuban army defeated a force of US-trained Cuban exiles.

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