Feb. 24 - Cuba releases several photos showing 86-year-old Fidel Castro participating in National Assembly session. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Cuba released additional photos of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro making a rare public appearance Sunday (February 24) at the National Assembly. The official state website Cuba debate put out pictures of Fidel Castro sitting alongside his brother, current Cuban President Raul Castro in the Assembly's opening session. Since falling ill in 2006 and ceding the presidency to his brother, Fidel Castro has given up all official positions except as a deputy in the National Assembly. At Sunday's session, he took his seat beside brother President Raul Castro, only the second time he has graced the assembly chambers since his illness and the first since 2010. Fidel Castro's surprise appearance added to expectations, fueled by his brother, that the usually routine session might shed light on future leadership of the communist-run nation. The 612 deputies, who were elected in an uncontested vote Feb. 3, are expected to name a new 31-member Council of State with Raul Castro as president, despite his quip. The National Assembly meets for just a few weeks each year and delegates its legislative powers between sessions to the Council of State, which also functions as the nation's executive through the Council of Ministers it appoints. Raul Castro, 81, would begin his second term on Sunday, theoretically leaving him free to retire in 2018, aged 86.