Raul Castro talks of stepping down

Raul Castro said his age, near 82, makes retiring likely.
Raul Castro said his age, near 82, makes retiring likely.

HAVANA — Cuba’s president, Raul Castro, has unexpectedly raised the possibility of leaving his post, saying Friday that he is old and has a right to retire. But he did not say when he might do so or whether such a move is imminent.

The Cuban leader is scheduled to be named by Parliament to a new five-year term on Sunday, and Castro urged reporters to listen to his speech that day.

‘‘I am going to resign,’’ Castro said at a joint appearance with visiting the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev. ‘‘I am going to be 82 years old,’’ Castro added, the hint of a smile on his face. ‘‘I have the right to retire, don’t you think?’’


When reporters continued to shout questions about his plans for the next five years, Castro replied simple: ‘‘Why are you so incredulous?’’

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Castro said to listen carefully on Sunday. ‘‘It will be an interesting speech,’’ he said.

Castro’s comments came in informal remarks at a mausoleum dedicated to soldiers from the former Soviet Union who have died around the world.

The Cuban leader has spoken before of his desire to implement a two-term limit for all Cuban government positions, including the presidency. He has also alluded to the limited time he has left to overhaul the island’s weak Marxist economy.

Most Havana residents had not heard Castro’s comments, which were not shown on Cuban television, although other footage from his appearance with Medvedev was shown. Many reacted with skepticism.

Associated Press