The Cuban government has suspended plans for the Communist Party's first congress in 12 years, as leaders focus on repairing the nation's battered economy.

The state-run Granma newspaper quotes President Raul Castro as saying party leaders are analyzing the economy to determine, in his words, "what must be perfected and even eliminated."

The congress, which last gathered in 1997, was scheduled to meet late this year in order to set a long-term course for Cuba's future.

The congress was expected to consider Cuba's future for long after President Castro, and his older brother and former President Fidel Castro, are gone.  Elections also were expected to be held to fill key Communist Party positions.

The postponement comes as Granma reports that the island nation's 2009 economic growth forecast has been lowered by nearly one percentage point, from 2.5 to 1.7 percent.

President Castro announced the congress in 2008, after he made a series of social changes during his first two months in office.
According to Cuba's constitution, the Communist Party is the island's "governing force" and responsible for setting the country's political and social agenda in five-year intervals.  

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters