Raul Castro backs 10-year maximum term for top positions
Updated: 2011-04-18 08:04
Delegates at Cuban congress will vote on economic reforms
HAVANA - Cuban President Raul Castro said on Saturday that he backed political term limits of 10 years for top leadership positions in the country.
"We have reached the conclusion that it is in our interest to limit to a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms service in top state and political roles," Castro told delegates as he opened the congress of the Cuban Communist Party (CCP).
"This is possible and necessary in our current situation," added the 79-year-old, who took over from Fidel Castro during his brother's health crisis back in 2006.
And Raul said that, in his view, there were no younger Cubans ready to take over the helm of the party and the nation immediately.
Delegates at the congress, the first in 14 years, will vote on economic reforms and officially relieve Fidel from his post as party leader.
Fidel, who has led the party since its founding in 1965, announced three weeks ago he had resigned the party leadership when he first took ill. He is widely expected to pass that mantle to Raul officially.
The congress will elect a new 100-member central committee, as well as a 19-member politburo and a 10-member secretariat.
The government has said the congress will formally enshrine many economic reforms adopted over the past year.
To help pick up slack on the unemployment resulting from reform of state industries, the government is expanding the categories of legal self-employment to 178, decentralizing the food distribution system, expanding areas of foreign investment, slashing subsidies and imposing a tax system.
Clad in his general's uniform and surrounded by senior officials, congress delegates and war veterans, Raul Castro earlier saluted soldiers as they marched through the Plaza de la Revolucion.
Civilians followed, including thousands of Young Pioneers waving blue, white and red Cuban flags and chanting "Viva Fidel!" and "Viva Raul!"
Fidel did not attend the festivities marking exactly half a century since he proclaimed the socialist character of the government.
China sends greetings
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Sunday sent a congratulatory message to the CCP on the opening of its congress.
On behalf of the CPC and the Chinese people, the message hailed the event and sent cordial greetings to all party members and the Cuban people.
The ongoing congress is of great significance for Cuba as the country is entering a critical period. It will have a momentous and far-reaching impact on the sustained development of Cuba's socialist cause, the message added.
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