Fidel Castro named candidate for Cuban National Assembly

HAVANA Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:38pm EST

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro stands beside a plant in Havana in this picture released by Cuban website Cubadebate October 19, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Castro/Courtesy of Cubadebate

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro stands beside a plant in Havana in this picture released by Cuban website Cubadebate October 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alex Castro/Courtesy of Cubadebate

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HAVANA (Reuters) - Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's political career may go on for a while, at least symbolically, even though he no longer holds the country's top political positions.

He is still a member of the National Assembly and on Sunday was nominated for another term, despite not having attended any regular sessions during the current legislature and the fact that he is rarely seen or heard from anymore.

Elections for a single slate of deputies for the single chamber legislature are held every five years, with the candidates nominated by municipal governments after selection by commissions.

The election is scheduled for February 3, 2013.

"The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, will head up the representation of 25 candidates to the Cuban parliament for the Santiago de Cuba municipality," Cuban television said on Sunday.

Castro, 86, handed over the presidency to his brother Raul in 2008, and the younger brother, 81, succeeded him as First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party in 2011.

The elder Castro underwent life-threatening intestinal surgery in 2006, from which he never fully recovered.

Castro nevertheless was elected to the National Assembly in 2008, his seat on the podium next to his brother Raul remaining empty ever since.

Raul Castro was also nominated as a deputy on Sunday. To formally remain president he must be a deputy in the assembly.

The municipal councilors in Santiago de Cuba unanimously approved the brothers' nominations. Since 1976, they have represented Santiago, the cradle of their revolution.

At its first session in February, the National Assembly must ratify the country's top political jobs.

Fidel Castro last appeared in official photographs in October, when he was shown walking outside on a sunny day on what appeared to be a farm.

He wore a straw hat and red plaid shirt, and used a walking cane.

The pictures were published to squash rumors he was dead or dying because in June he abruptly stopped writing the regular columns he had published in the official media since taking ill.

An article, written by Castro and which accompanied the photographs, announced he had given up his local media columns.

"I stopped publishing 'Reflections' because surely it is not my role to occupy the pages of our press, dedicated to other work the country requires," he said.

As for how he spends his time now, Castro wrote, "I like to write, and I write. I like to study, and I study."

Castro wrote a message to the Venezuelan people on Saturday, in which he hailed his protégé and the South American country's president, Hugo Chavez.

Chavez is currently recovering from a fourth cancer operation in Cuba amidst speculation he will not be able to begin a new term as president in January, after winning re-election in October.

(Reporting By Marc Frank; Editing by Jeff Franks and Jackie Frank)

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