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Cuba's Raul signals more openness of ideas

The younger Castro said that as Cuba's long-serving defence minister he had learned to listen to and discuss differing ideas.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2006 05:54 IST

Cuban provisional leader Raul Castro said in comments published on Thursday he will delegate more duties and give fewer speeches than his "irreplaceable" brother Fidel, and further signaled a new leadership style that includes more openness to divergent opinions.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma said Raul Castro told about 800 university leaders they should "fearlessly" engage in public debate and analysis - expressing a different leadership style than that of his 80-year-old brother.

The elder Castro, who stepped aside almost five months ago after emergency intestinal surgery, for almost five decades was Cuba's "Maximum Leader," characterised by meandering, hours-long speeches, unquestioned decisions and micromanagement of government programmes and policies.

The younger Castro said that as Cuba's long-serving defence minister he had learned to listen to and discuss differing ideas, without offering any hints about what those divergent opinions might be.

Raul Castro is largely seen as a pragmatist more likely to embrace limited free enterprise than his brother, and in the past has expressed interest in China's model of capitalist reform with one-party political control.

"The first principle in constructing any armed forces is the sole command. But that doesn't mean that we cannot discuss," he said.