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Raul Castro calls for term limits at party congress
Raul Castro (pictured) has told delegates meeting at a Cuban Communist Party congress that he would recommend new limits on political terms and acknowledged that the party had failed to promote younger people to senior positions.
REUTERS - Cuba will consider placing term limits on its leaders to assure new blood in the government, President Raul Castro said on Saturday in a speech kicking off a Communist Party congress on the island he and his brother led for more than five decades.
He said the government does not have “a reserve of well-trained replacements with sufficient experience and maturity” to replace the current leaders, most of whom are in their 70s and 80s.
“We have reached the conclusion that it is advisable to recommend limiting the time of service in high political and state positions to a maximum of two five-year terms,” he told 1,000 delegates at the congress, where economic reform is the main agenda item.
Castro, 79, said he would not be excluded from the limits, which will be discussed not at this congress, but a party conference next January.
Cuba’s geriatric leadership has been a topic of concern for a government intent on assuring the survival of Cuban socialism and new faces could be elected to high party positions during the congress.
Long-tenured officials have been a trademark of Cuba since the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power.
Fidel Castro, who is 84 and did not attend the congress, ruled for 49 years and younger brother Raul Castro was defense minister for the same amount of time before taking over the presidency in 2008.
In the line of succession, first vice president Juan Machado Ventura is 80 and second vice president Ramiro Valdes is 77.
“It’s really embarrassing that we have not solved this problem in more than half a century,” Castro said.
“Although we kept trying to promote young people to senior positions, life proved that we did not always make the best choice,” he said.
Raul Castro was expected to be elected the party’s First Secretary, a post he has filled unofficially since Fidel Castro fell ill in 2006. Fidel Castro only recently disclosed that he had left the post.