Fidel Steps Down After 50 Years
Cuban leader announces retirement
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2008 4:07 AM CST
In a file photo Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro is shown in Havana in this 1959 photo after he was told that his Army Chief Maj. Camilo Cienfuegos was still missing as Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticos,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Fidel Castro has resigned after nearly 50 years as Cuba's leader, the AP reports. "I neither will aspire to, nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," the 81-year-old wrote in a letter published in the Communist Party's online paper today. His brother Raul is widely expected to succeed him as president.

Fidel hasn't appeared in public since a 2006 serious illness led to him temporarily hand power to his younger brother. He had been dropping hints about stepping down for months, although the revolutionary leader signaled that he has no intention of completely disappearing from Cuban politics. "I just want to carry on fighting like a soldier for our ideas," said the letter.