Thu, Aug 02, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Castro declines to confirm when he might return

AFP , HAVANA

Ailing Cuban president Fidel Castro said yesterday he was still consulted on "every important" government move but did not reveal when he might return to the helm a year after handing over to his brother.

In a statement published a year after he officially ceded power to his brother Raul, Fidel Castro portrayed himself as still very much involved in the affairs of state.

"Raul himself has been entrusted with making sure that every important decision, during the period that I have been recovering, was decided after consulting with me," he said in a statement appearing in the newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde.

"What am I going to do? I will fight ceaselessly as I have done all my life," he said.

Castro handed over to his brother four days after undergoing a gastrointestinal operation last year, and he has only appeared in photographs and videos since.

For the first time in 48 years, he did not put in an appearance at the country's National Rebellion Day celebrations last week. His first no-show at the festivities fueled speculation that he may never take back the helm from Raul.

Friends of the communist leader say his recovery is going well, but the secrecy surrounding his condition has raised doubts about his health and his political future.

While officials have repeatedly said he will eventually be back in the job, the length of his recovery has cast doubt on whether Castro will ever be able to fully resume his political functions.

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