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Brother: Fidel to contest

Havana, Dec. 25 (AP): Raul Castro said yesterday that communist party leaders support his brother Fidel’s re-election to parliament.

They said that Castro is exercising two hours daily and gaining weight while keeping his mind healthy with reading and writing. A seat in parliament is the first step in a process that would allow Fidel to retain his post atop the Council of State, Cuba’s supreme governing body.

Communist party leaders “defend him running again” Raul Castro said of his brother’s candidacy for re-election to the Cuba’s National Assembly, or parliament, on January 20.

Last week, the 81-year-old Fidel Castro suggested he would not cling to power forever, nor stand in the way of a younger generations. He hinted at his political future for the first time since emergency intestinal surgery forced him to cede power to a “provisional” government headed by Raul in July 2006.

But his younger brother indicated yesterday that Fidel was healthy enough to stand for re-election.

Through daily exercise, Fidel “has recovered a lot of weight and muscle mass”, he said, speaking to voters in Fidel’s district in the eastern city of Santiago, where the brothers spent part of their youth.

He said Fidel asked him to visit voters in the districts as he was unable to do so.

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