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Raul Castro to step down as Cuba president in April 2018

Thursday, December 21, 2017

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HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Cuban President Raul Castro will step down in April 2018 straight after his successor is chosen by a top governing council, according to a vote Thursday in the island state's National Assembly.

The vote by lawmakers pushed back the date of general elections, which were initially to be held at the end of February. The delay was necessary due to disruption caused by Hurricane Irma, which ravaged much of Cuba in September.

It means that Castro, 86, will stay on a couple of months later than planned.

The modification to Cuba's election calendar means general elections choosing the National Assembly's 600 members will be moved to a date yet to be decided.

Cuba's president is not directly elected by the people, but by the Council of State which is chosen by the National Assembly.

The lawmakers' election of the Council of State posts — including that of its president, who will also be the president of Cuba, replacing Raul Castro — was set for April 19.

The National Assembly session deciding these changes was closed to international media.,p>


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