Revolutionary icon, not seen in public since '06, ruled for 49 years

Feb 19, MSNBC

HAVANA - Ailing leader Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba’s president early Tuesday after nearly a half-century in power, saying in a letter published in online official media that he would not accept a new term when the newly elected parliament meets on Sunday.

“I will not aspire nor accept — I repeat I will not aspire or accept — the post of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief,” read the letter signed by Castro and published quietly overnight without advance warning in the online edition of the Communist Party daily Granma.

The new National Assembly is meeting Sunday for first time since January elections to pick the governing Council of State, including the presidency Castro holds. There had been wide speculation about whether he would accept a nomination for re-election to that post or retire.

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photo : Fidel Castro gestures during a three-hour speech in February 2004 in Havana, Cuba (Jose Goitia / AP FILE)