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Cuba's Castro sets elections timetable

June 15, 2017

Cuba is set to hold municipal elections on October 22, a precursor to the handover of power from President Raul Castro in 2018. Accession in one-party systems is never easy, and Cuba is no exception.

President Raul Castro
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/D. Boylan

President Castro has said he will step down next February at the end of his second five-year term, but has indicated he will stay on as head of the Communist Party, the only legal party in Cuba.

The date for provincial and national assembly elections will be published "at the corresponding time," the ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma said on Wednesday. 

Municipal assembly delegates are nominated by neighbors and do not have to belong to the Communist Party, although the path to the National Assembly and ultimately to the presidency is controlled by the party.

Which way next?

The electoral notice coincides with a period of uncertainty for Cuba. 

The group that has ruled the country since the 1959 revolution is dying out and Cuba's main political and trade ally Venezuela is in crisis. For the past decade, Venezuelan oil subsidies have been crucial to Cuba's economy.

Supporters of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro attend a tribute
Revolutionary leader Fidel Castro (pictured at right) ruled the country for nearly half a centuryImage: Reuters/E. Alonso

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is expected to announce his Cuba policy on Friday.

Trump may roll back some of former President Barack Obama's overtures to the island, which included the restoration of relations and the reopening of embassies.

Castro's first vice president, the 57-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, is widely tipped to assume Castro's mantle, but there is also talk of a radical break with the older generation and an embrace of the market reforms that have been a feature of Castro's nine-year rule.

Castro took over the presidency in 2008 from his ailing brother and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died last November. As a cautious pragmatist, many initially felt the younger sibling was a stopgap when he formally assumed office. 

US-Cuba relations under Trump

jbh/cmk (Reuters, AP)

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