Castro to quit, ending long era in Cuba

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Raul Castro says he is resigning as head of Cuba's Communist Party, ending an era of formal leadership by he and his brother Fidel Castro that began with the 1959 revolution.

The 89-year-old Castro made the announcement Friday in a speech at the opening of the Eighth congress of the ruling party, the only one allowed on the island.

He said he was retiring with the sense of having "fulfilled his mission and confident in the future of the fatherland".

Castro didn't say who he would endorse as his successor as first secretary of the Communist Party.

But he previously indicated that he favours yielding control to 60-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, who succeeded him as president in 2018 and is the standard bearer of a younger generation of loyalists who have been pushing an economic opening without touching Cuba's one-party system.

His retirement means that for the first time in more than six decades Cubans won't have a Castro formally guiding their affairs and it comes at a difficult time, with many on the island anxious about what lies ahead.