Latin America & Caribbean

Fidel Castro quit as Cuba Communist Party chief in 2006

Fidel Castro speaks during a meeting with Cuban and foreign intellectuals visiting Havana's International book fair on 15 February Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Fidel Castro used his regular column to confirm his resignation

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he resigned from all his official positions when he fell ill in 2006, including that of Communist Party head.

Although it was widely known that Mr Castro, 84, was not doing the day-to-day job of party leader, he had never publicly stepped down from the post.

Mr Castro's comments in state media appeared to be an attempt to quell speculation about his future role.

The Communist Party is due to hold its first Congress in 14 years in April.

The news that Fidel Castro no longer holds any official positions of power came in one of his regular editorials, tucked away in an article criticising US President Barack Obama.

"I resigned without hesitation all my state and political positions, even that of First Secretary of the Party when I got sick," Mr Castro wrote.

"I never tried to exercise those roles again, not even when I had partially recovered a year later, although everyone affectionately continued to refer to me (as first secretary)."

Mr Castro's column confirms suggestions from last November, when he told students he had "delegated" all his powers.

His article made it clear that he would continue to play a role as a "soldier of ideas".

Fidel Castro was Cuba's leader for nearly 50 years before handing over the presidency to his younger brother, Raul, who was officially confirmed in the post in February 2008.

Raul Castro, 79, is widely thought to be the de facto party chief and is expected to be confirmed in the role when the ruling Communist Party holds its congress next month.

Raul Castro has been introducing economic reforms that are expected to be endorsed by delegates at their meeting, which starts on 16 April.

This is likely to be the last Party Congress where the ageing generation who led the revolution are still in charge.

There are no clear successors, so it will be interesting to see who will be chosen to take over as number two in the party hierarchy, says the BBC's Michael Voss in Havana.

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