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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 21:36 GMT
First walk for Castro after fall
Cuban leader Fidel Castro during his first walk in public since fracturing his knee in October
Castro walked across the hall and up stairs, aided by a young girl
Cuban President Fidel Castro has walked for the first time in public since fracturing his knee two months ago.

Aided by a young girl, Mr Castro walked stiffly into a National Assembly meeting to the surprise of lawmakers, who cheered "Long live Fidel!"

Mr Castro tripped and fell after giving a speech on 20 October, shattering his left kneecap into eight pieces and fracturing his right arm.

The fall renewed speculation about the future of the island after Mr Castro.

He has ruled for 46 years, making him the world's longest ruling head of government and one of the longest ruling heads of state.

Show of strength

Wearing his olive-green military uniform, Mr Castro walked into the end-of-year session to the cheers and applause of hundreds of lawmakers.

He walked across the width of the hall, up a small flight of stairs to the main stage, and sat down next to his brother and designated successor, Defence Minister Raul Castro.

Castro falls to the floor before a rally in Havana
Television cameras captured the moment the Cuban leader fell
Correspondents suggest Mr Castro may be keen to dispel any suggestion that his hold on power is ebbing.

Just five days after the fall, he appeared on television for two hours, when he joked that Cubans should "take care descending the stairs".

He stood briefly in public a month ago to receive Chinese President Hu Jintao, and then for several moments during a visit by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week.

Get-well messages were sent to Mr Castro from high-profile friends around the world.

Film director Oliver Stone joked Mr Castro could play the role of "Superman's grandfather" for his speedy recovery, according to AP news agency.


SEE ALSO:
Cuba ponders life after the fall
22 Oct 04 |  Americas
'Wrong kind of fall' for Castro
22 Oct 04 |  Americas
Castro breaks knee, arm in fall
21 Oct 04 |  Americas
Country profile: Cuba
02 Jul 04 |  Country profiles


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