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Castro era to end in Cuba as Raul set to step down

19 April, 2018, 01:56 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Cuban government nominates Diaz-Canel as sole candidate to replace Raul Castro

Ceremonies continued through lunchtime and broke until Thursday morning, when the new national leadership is expected to be officially announced on the anniversary of the defeat of US -backed invaders at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

Three of the nominees would be returning to the council. The CCN proposed Salvador Valdes Mesa for the post of first vice-president.

The new vice presidents would be Ines Maria Chapman, Beatriz Jhonson Urrutia and Roberto Tomas Morales Ojeda, who is now the health minister.

Cuba's parliament, however, won't officially reveal the results of the vote until it readjourns Thursday.

The session will last for two days.

It started with an oath of office read by Leydimara de la Caridad Cardenas Isasi, who at 19 is the youngest member of the more than 600 members of the National Assembly of People's Power.

The 604 assembly members were sworn in - a 605th was absent - then voted for the president and vice president of the legislative body itself. Also a stalwart of the ruling Communist Party, he is considered a safe bet to inherit the ideological mantle of Castro and other elderly leaders who helped Fidel Castro oust US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Cuba's government is embracing social media as it convenes the National Assembly to elect a successor to President Raul Castro. One thing is certain, he'll become president at a time when Cuba faces a serious economic crisis, compounded by the dwindling subsidies from Venezuela, the continuation of USA embargos, and major income inequality. It's an apparent effort to convey the message that the Cubans shouldn't expect radical change when a new president is announced on Thursday.

At a national level, Diaz-Canel called for more critical coverage of events in state-run media, and broader internet access to open one of the world's least web-connected societies. Commentators on state television and online offered lengthy explanations of why Cuba's single-party politics and socialist economy are superior to multi-party democracy and free markets, and assured Cubans that no fundamental changes were occurring, despite some new faces at the top.

The president and vice-president of Cuba and other national leaders will be voted on later in the day.

Castro entered the National Assembly just after 9am accompanied by a broadly smiling Diaz-Canel, the man expected to succeed him.

As a young provincial party chief, Diaz-Canel bucked party orthodoxy by backing an LGBT-friendly cultural centre, reportedly listening to rock music and sporting long hair. Raul Castro, 86, has said a couple of times he has no intention of seeking a third five-year term.

Two years after taking over from his ailing brother in 2006, Castro launched a series of reforms that expanded Cuba's private sector to almost 600,000 people and allowed citizens greater freedom to travel and access to information.



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