Castro maps retirement

Raul Castro announced Sunday that he will step down as Cuba’s president in 2018 following a final five-year term, for the first time putting a date on the end of the Castro era. He tapped rising star Miguel Diaz-Canel as his top lieutenant and first in the line of succession. The 81-year-old Castro also said he hopes to establish two-term limits and age caps for political offices including the presidency — an astonishing prospect for a nation led by Castro or his older brother Fidel since their 1959 revolution. The 52-year-old Diaz-Canel is now a heartbeat from the presidency and has risen higher than any other Cuban official who didn’t directly participate in the heady days of the revolution.


Morsi calls for dialogue

Egypt’s Islamist president has invited political forces to join him in a dialogue to find ways to ensure the “integrity and transparency” of upcoming parliamentary elections. Speaking in a television interview, Mohammed Morsi also rejected opposition charges that the elections he called for April were ill timed given the wave of unrest roiling the country. “I see that the climate is very agreeable for an election,” he said. Morsi used the interview, recorded on Sunday but aired early today 5½ hours behind schedule, to try and improve his standing nearly eight months into his four-year term. He repeatedly declared that he was a “president for all Egyptians,” claimed he had no quarrel with any of the nation’s political forces and reasserted his respect and confidence in the military.


Conservative wins runoff

Conservative candidate Nicos Anastasiades won Cyprus’ presidential runoff election Sunday by one of the widest margins in 30 years, and will quickly have to face the formidable task of preventing the country from suffering a financial meltdown. Anastasiades won with 57.48 percent, far ahead of left-wing rival Stavros Malas, who had 42.51 percent of the vote, according to final results. Cypriots chose their leader at a critical time, and the new president will be under pressure to quickly finalize a financial rescue package.

Compiled from wire reports.