Fidel Castro Elected President of Non-Aligned Movement

Reprinted for Granma International, September 15, 2006

By acclamation and with the corresponding rap of the gavel Fidel Castro Ruz was elected president of the Non-Aligned Movement. On his behalf, and in line with constitutional regulations, the position is being temporarily assumed by Raúl Castro, who concluded his subsequent speech with a strong call for unity.

Minutes beforehand, Cuban Foreign Minister stated that on medical prescription and in spite of his rapid recovery, he would not be directly present at the Summit, and announced that the Cuban leader is ready to assume his tasks and functions at the head of this Movement once he is completely recovered.

Pérez Roque also noted that the head of state followed the speeches and discussions of the foreign ministers earlier in the week with the closest attention and thanked people for the numerous messages of solidarity and wishes for his recovery that they have sent to him.

Thus Raúl Castro Ruz, first vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, took charge of receiving the visiting heads of state and government on their arrival at the International Conference Center for the start of the highest-level meeting of the NAM summits.

Seconded by Carlos Lage Dávila and Felipe Pérez Roque, vice president of the Council of State and foreign minister, respectively, and other officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Raúl gave an affectionate welcome to the 50-plus leaders attending. This is considered to be one of the conferences with the greatest participation of high dignitaries.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as outgoing president of the meeting , declared the 14th Summit open, stating that – with much pleasure – he was handing over responsibility for the Movement to the first vice president of the Council of Ministers, Raúl Castro Ruz who, after conveying Fidel’s greetings to the assembly, acknowledged the good work undertaken by Indonesia in the prior stage and gave his guarantee that Cuba would assume the responsibility from now on with similar enthusiasm and seriousness.