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19 April 2018, 03:27 | Tara Lloyd
The Cuban government says First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel is the only candidate nominated for president, a move that guarantees he will be the communist country's first president outside the Castro family for the first time in almost 60 years.
Raul Castro said in 2017 that he would step down from his position as president of Cuba.
Diaz-Canel, Williams said, must deal with a hard line segment of the Communist Party that holds considerable sway and are firmly opposed to engagement with the United States. His was the only name put forward by a party-backed commission, and was greeted with a long ovation from lawmakers. The government's official Candidacy Commission also nominated another five vice presidents of the Council of State, Cuba's highest government body.
Although the session was initially planned for Thursday, officials decided earlier this week to extend it across two days "to facilitate the procedures during an event of such significance".
However, according to various media reports and expert estimations, Raul Castro could remain the leader of Cuba's Communist Party - the country's sole official political party - at least until 2021.
Diaz-Canel smiled and joined the applause of the president.
The new president is likely to be cautious at first, seeking to consolidate support among conservatives despite desire among young Cubans for faster development. He is extremely unlikely to challenge one-party rule.
Raul Castro in March was reelected in March as a member of the country's parliament. He succeeded his older brother, Fidel Castro, as president in 2006 after the elder Castro stepped aside due to illness.
Diaz-Canel, born after the revolution, embraces technology and appears socially liberal.
The economy is suffering the effects of a crisis in oil benefactor Venezuela.
Under the Cuban Constitution, the president of the State Council is the head of state and government.
"Most Cubans, especially the young, await an unambiguous, decisive acceleration of market-opening reforms", Feinberg said. Fidel Castro formally handed over power to his brother in 2008 and died in 2016.
Shunning the long speeches his brother was famous for, Raul Castro kept his low-key style even as he reached a landmark agreement in 2014 with former U.S. President Barack Obama to restore diplomatic ties with the United States. Castro will remain party leader. Cuba's legislature opened the two-day session that is to elect a successor to President Castro. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.
Castro's chosen successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has served as Castro's vice president since 2013.
The legislators then cast secret ballots and were expected to nearly unanimously support the slate. Valdes has held senior posts since the 1960s.
A big day in Cuba's history as Raul Castro ends his 10-years in power and the closing the 60-year Castro reign in Cuba; Steve Harrigan has the latest updates from Havana, Cuba.
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