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Castro considers introducing 10-year term limit for Cuban leaders

Raul Castro says top politicians should be limited to two five-year terms – signalling a possible withdrawal from public life.

Image: Ismael Francisco/AP

CUBA’S PRESIDENT Raul Castro has said he believes the country’s top political positions should limit their incumbents to no more than ten years in power – potentially signalling the way for his own retirement, and that of many of its leaders.

Speaking at a congress of the country’s ruling Communist Party – the first such meeting for fourteen years – Castro said the party leadership would be more invigorated if leaders could serve no more than two terms of five years in duration.

The proposal, BBC News said, was unprecedented – and holds particular significance given the timing of the congress, which has been convened to mark the 50th anniversary of the revolution that saw Castro’s brother Fidel take power, and the failed invasion by the United States that followed.

The younger Castro, who took over as acting President when Fidel stepped aside in July 2006 and formally succeeded him in February 2008, also indicated that the proposed term limits should apply to himself.

Currently, senior roles like the Presidency are subjected to five-year tenures, but there is no limit on the number of terms an individual can serve; Fidel Castro served as President for 31 years, and prime minister for nearly 18 before that, prior to his retirement triggered by ill-health.

Raul Castro, 79, told the congress’s opening address that the move would help the country overcome a “mentality of inertia”.

There was no indication, however, that the Communist Party would be prepared to allow the country’s other parties to nominate candidates for elections, and Castro said the country’s socialist principals could not be reversed.

“No country or person can spend more than they have,” PA quotes him as saying. “Two plus two is four, never five, much less six or seven – as we have sometimes pretended.”

The premier conceded, however, that the current system of issuing monthly rations for basic foods presented a “disincentive” for work.

The discussion on introducing term limits will be put to a special conference in January. Castro’s first vice-president is 80 years old, Reuters reports, while the second vice-president is 77.

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Gavan Reilly

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