Cuba: Raul Castro′s presidency prolonged by National Assembly | News | DW | 21.12.2017
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Cuba: Raul Castro's presidency prolonged by National Assembly

Cuba's legislative body has extended its term to April of 2018, delaying President Raul Castro's historic transfer of power. The aging leader's departure will mark the end of six decades of rule under the Castro family.

The Cuban National Assembly announced on Thursday that it was extending its legislative period to April 18, 2018. The move effectively changes the end date of Cuban president Raul Castro's tenure.

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The decision was made due to the "exceptional situation" created by Hurricane Irma's impact on the island this September, which caused significant infrastructure damage and left ten people dead.

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When Castro began his second term as president in 2013, he pledged that it would be his last. The leader said he would retire at the end of the current legislative period, which was initially slated to end on February 24, 2018. The new timeline delays the historic transition of presidential power by two months.

General elections for the National Assembly typically follow the expiration of the legislative period. Cubans will elect the 600 members of the legislative body, which will then select the powerful 31-member Council of State, whose leader will become the next president.

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Castro's departure would likely see the first non-Castro family member lead the island nation since the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

In 2008, Raul's older brother Fidel Castro stepped down due to health issues and designated him as a successor. Fidel passed away in November 2015.

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Under Raul Castro's tenure, the country undertook a series of domestic reforms that included the spread of internet and cellphone access, freedom to travel for most Cubans, modest openings in the domestic economy and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States under former President Barack Obama.

Relations between Havana and Washington deteriorated after the election of US President Donald Trump, who re-imposed restrictions on US-American travelto Cuba.

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No candidate has yet been announced to succeed the Castro legacy, but analysts point to First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who was born a year after the revolution and has kept a low profile, as the probable successor.

jcg/rc (AFP, EFE, dpa)

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