Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president yesterday after nearly a half-century in power, saying he will not accept a new term when the new parliament meets on Sunday.
"I will not aspire to nor accept - I repeat, I will not aspire to nor accept - the post of President of the Council of State and Commander-in-Chief," read a letter signed by Castro published early yesterday in the online edition of the Communist Party daily Granma.
The announcement effectively ends the 49-year rule of the 81-year-old Castro, and makes it possible for his 76-year-old brother Raul to succeed him. It would give the younger Castro full autonomy, too, which he has lacked in leading a caretaker government.
Raul Castro had long been his brother's designated successor. The longtime defense minister had been in his brother's rebel movements since 1953 and spent decades as No 2 in Cuba's power structure.
A new National Assembly was elected in January, and will meet for the first time on Sunday to pick the governing Council of State, including the presidency.
"My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That's all I can offer," Castro wrote yesterday. But, he continued, "it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama."
Castro said Cuban officials had wanted him to remain in power after his surgery. "It was an uncomfortable situation for me vis-a-vis an adversary that had done everything possible to get rid of me, and I felt reluctant to comply," he said, referring to the US.
Castro rose to power on New Year's Day in 1959 and reshaped Cuba into a Communist state. The guerrilla leader survived assassination attempts, a CIA-backed invasion and a missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Ten US administrations tried to topple him, most famously in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
"The adversary to be defeated is extremely strong," Castro wrote, referring to the US. "But we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century."
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Jonathan Stewart is a media and journalism expert from the United States with four years of experience as a writer and instructor. He accepted a foreign expert position with chinadaily.com.cn in June 2007 following the completion of his Master of Arts degree in International Relations and Comparative Politics.