Castro nears retirement as Cuban president; successor proposed

Castro nears retirement as Cuban president; successor proposed
# 18 April 2018 21:06 (UTC +04:00)

Cuba’s Raul Castro moved closer to retiring as president on Wednesday as the country’s parliament proposed Miguel Diaz-Canel to replace him, in a shift that will usher in the island’s first non-Castro leader since the 1959 revolution, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Castro, 86, is stepping down after 10 years in office but his departure - which he had announced several years ago - is seen as unlikely to herald major changes in Cuba, at least for a while.

The National Assembly was due to vote later in the day on the proposal to replace him with Diaz-Canel, a 57-year-old Communist Party stalwart who is currently first vice president.

Diaz-Canel, born after the revolution, is an engineer by training who embraces technology and appears socially liberal. After years climbing the ranks of the Communist Party, he is considered a safe bet to inherit the ideological mantle of Castro and other elderly leaders who helped Fidel Castro oust U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The new president is likely to be cautious at first, seeking to consolidate support among conservatives in the party despite desire among young Cubans for faster development. He is unlikely to challenge one-party rule.

The rubber-stamp assembly was due to vote on 30 members of Cuba’s state council along with Diaz-Canel. The new president and his colleagues were due to be sworn in on Thursday.

While this week’s assembly is promoting younger leaders of government, Castro and other elders of the revolution will retain considerable power in their roles as senior leaders of the Communist Party at least until a party congress set for 2021.

Castro, who had served for decades as defense minister, became president in 2008 when his older brother, Fidel Castro, formally handed over power as his health deteriorated. Fidel Castro died in 2016 aged 90.

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