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Updated: April 19, 2011 21:26 IST

Raul Castro succeeds Fidel as Cuba Communist Party chief

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Raul Castro
AFP Raul Castro

President Raul Castro was named first secretary of Cuba's Communist Party on Tuesday, with his brother Fidel not included in the leadership for the first time since the party's creation 46 years ago.

Despite raising hopes during the gathering that a new generation of leaders was poised to take up important positions, Mr. Raul Castro announced that Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, an 80-year-old long-time confidante, would be his No. 2.

New leaders

Ramiro Valdes, a 78-year-old Vice-President, was named to the No. 3 spot. Several younger people were added to the 15-member leadership group, but in lesser positions.

Fidel Castro, 84, made a surprise appearance at the gathering, receiving thunderous applause from the 1,000 delegates assembled in a vast convention centre in the capital, Havana.

Many could be seen crying as he was helped to his place on stage by a young aide, then stood at attention next to his brother during the playing of Cuba's national anthem.

Mr. Raul Castro's name was read out by a party official announcing the members of the party's Central Committee at the closing ceremony of the Sixth Communist Party Congress.

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