Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Fidel Castro backs Cuba shake-up

Fidel Castro on 12 February 2009
Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since July 2006

Cuba's former leader, Fidel Castro, has criticised two top politicians recently dismissed from office as "unworthy".

Mr Castro did not name them, but he is thought to have been referring to Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and cabinet chief Carlos Lage.

The two high-profile politicians had become seduced by "the honey of power", Mr Castro said in an online article.

They were among 10 key politicians dismissed in a major cabinet shake-up by President Raul Castro on Tuesday.

The two men had been seen as possible future presidential candidates.

'External enemy'

In a column posted on the website of the country's official Communist newspaper, Granma, and dated to Tuesday, Mr Castro said President Castro had consulted him about the new appointments.

He went on to say that "two individuals mentioned by news reports as the most affected" had harboured ambitions "that led them to an unworthy role".

"The external enemy was filled with illusions for them," he added. It is not clear if Mr Castro was referring to the US, and he gave no further details.

The new US administration of President Barack Obama has said it would seek to ease restrictions against Cuba.

It is the first big reshuffle since Raul Castro took over as president from his ailing older brother last year.

Mr Castro also dismissed suggestions that his brother had used the opportunity to appoint his own loyalists.

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