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US Diplomat Says Cuban President Likely Will Remain Involved After Resignation

A former U.S. diplomat to Cuba says Cuban President Fidel Castro likely will still have a role in Cuban politics, despite announcing his resignation after 49 years in power.

Vicki Huddleston, the former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, says after Mr. Castro steps down, new officials may move up the Communist Party hierarchy, but Mr. Castro likely will continue to have a political presence to oversee his legacy.

The long-time president announced plans to retire in the state-run newspaper Granma Tuesday. But he also indicated he will continue to influence Cuban politics. He wrote that he is not saying "farewell," and will continue to have his voice heard.

Mr. Castro's younger brother, Raul, is expected to be named head of state when the National Assembly chooses Cuba's new president Sunday.

Raul Castro has been interim president since his brother underwent surgery in July 2006.

Cuban dissidents and Western leaders, including President Bush, say they hope Cuba will see a peaceful transition to democracy.

Besides monarchs, Mr. Castro had become the world's longest-serving head of state. He took power in an armed revolution in 1959, and has promoted anti-imperialist, socialist policies since then.

Human rights groups and Western countries have criticized Mr. Castro's policies, saying he has suppressed political freedom and violated people's basic human rights.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.