HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — Cuban President Raul Castro is expected to be reelected Sunday when the newly elected National Assembly of Peoples Power convenes for the first time.
Castro, 81, a general who was Cuba’s defence minister for half a century, first took power temporarily in July 2006, due to the health problems of his older brother Fidel Castro, 86. In February 2008, the National Assembly formally elected him as the country’s leader.
The new National Assembly was elected February 3. The 612 legislators, all of whom ran unopposed, are now set to grant Castro another five-year mandate.
As president, Castro has adopted a pragmatic course and introduced significant though gradual reforms in the communist country. Among others, he allowed Cubans to buy and sell cars and homes, increased space for private initiative and did away with the exit permit that had for decades prevented many Cubans from travelling abroad.
Politically, however, little has changed. The Cuban Communist Party remains the only party that is allowed on the island, and according to Castro that is to remain so. And while the president has insisted that the Cuban leadership should be rejuvenated, most key positions remain in the hands of the so-called old guard.
However, Castro has said that he would like to limit time in top positions to a maximum of two five-year terms. If that wish should turn into an actual legal limit, the one that starts Sunday could be Castro’s last mandate.
“I’m going to turn 82, I have a right to retire. Don’t you think so?” Castro joked Friday at an event in the outskirts of Havana with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Also See: Cuba Under Raul Castro’s Reforms