Cuba: President Raúl Castro Stepping Down from Power

Miguel Diaz-Canel officially nominated to take helm of Cuba's State Council

Miguel Diaz-Canel was proposed in Cuba's parliament on Wednesday as the sole candidate to replace Raul Castro as president, which will make him the island's first non-Castro leader since the 1959 revolution. The transition will mark the first time in more than six decades that Cuba will be led by someone outside the Castro family.

Rubio says that with Diaz-Canel, "the regime will remain an enemy of democracy, human rights and the impartial rule of law".

Mr Diaz-Canel has spent decades climbing the party ranks, becoming Mr Castro's right-hand man in 2013.

The legislature will also appoint the 31 members of the Council of State, the island's most powerful government body of the single-party socialist system.

Three of the nominees would be returning to the council.

While this week's assembly is promoting younger leaders of government, Castro and other elders of the revolution will likely retain a degree of power on the Caribbean island as senior leaders of the Communist Party until a party congress set for 2021.

The nomination must be now approved by the 604 delegates attending the National Assembly, which always approves nominations with total or near-total unanimity.

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The new first vice president will be Salvador Valdes Mesa, a 72-year-old Afro-Cuban former union official. The two-day process is a departure from the past, when the legislature has generally chosen the president and made the announcement the same day.

In Cuba, the National Assembly is meeting today to elect a successor for President Raúl Castro, who has announced he's stepping down this week. The National Assembly was due to vote later in the day on the proposal to replace him with Diaz-Canel, a 57-year-old engineer who is now first vice president.

The accounts are using the hashtag "Somos Continuidad" or "We are continuity".

The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, designated by the constitution as "the superior guiding force of society and the state". Few Cubans use Twitter and the vast majority of the country relies on TV for news.

The men who have run Cuba for almost six decades began life in a remote, rural part of the island known as Biran, sons of a wealthy farmer.

Legislators erupted in applause Wednesday morning as Castro entered the hall in a dark suit, accompanied by Miguel Diaz-Canel, his expected successor. Until March, Diaz-Canel had said nothing to the Cuban people about the type of president he would be. 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.

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