HAVANA - Fidel Castro will be in "perfect shape" to run for re-election to
parliament next spring, the first step toward securing yet another term as
Cuba's president, National Assembly head Ricardo Alarcon said Thursday.
"I would nominate him,"
said Alarcon, the highest-ranking member of parliament. "I'm sure he will be in
perfect shape to continue handling his responsibilities."
President, Fidel Castro, left, and the Minister of Defense Raul Castro,
attend a Cuban Parliament session in the Palace of Conventions in Havana
in this July 1, 2004 file photo. [AP]
Mobbed by foreign reporters following a parliamentary session to discuss
Cuba's upcoming elections, Alarcon said Castro "is doing fine and continuing to
focus on recovery and rehabilitation."
A lengthy process of nominating candidates for municipal elections will begin
this summer, leading to several rounds of voting. Then, by March 2008, Cuba
should be ready to hold parliamentary elections that are expected to include
Castro, Alarcon said.
The 80-year-old Castro was the world's longest-ruling head of state,
occupying the island's presidency for 47 years before temporarily stepping aside
in favor of his younger brother, Raul, following emergency intestinal surgery in
Alarcon said he has been in contact with Castro many times in recent weeks,
but stopped short of saying he has seen him in person. He said that even though
Castro ceded power to his 75-year-old brother, he never "abandoned his role."
"Fidel has been and is very involved, very connected, very active in all
manner of important decisions that this country makes," Alarcon said. "What's
happening is, he can't do it the same way he did before because he has to
dedicate a good part of his time to recuperating physically."
Switching later to deliberate but fluent English, Alarcon told journalists:
"To what extent he will go back to doing things the way he did, the way he is
accustomed to, it's up to him."
He wouldn't say whether Raul Castro will remain acting president if his
brother becomes well enough to return to work full-time.
Things in Cuba have remained calm and functioned normally under Raul Castro.
Though Fidel has not appeared in public, he has sounded lucid and up on current
events in a pair of recent telephone conversations with Venezuelan President
After earlier post-surgery photos had shown him looking sick and weak, images
on state television in late January revealed a stronger and healthier seeming
Although Castro temporarily ceded his functions to his
brother, he still holds the title of president of the Council of State, Cuba's
supreme governing body.