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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Cuba brings forward assembly session to pick new president

The assembly had originally been set to meet on Thursday, but will now start its ‘constitutive session’ on Wednesday morning

Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, shakes hands with first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel at the closing of the legislative session at the National Assembly in Havana in 2014. AP
Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, shakes hands with first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel at the closing of the legislative session at the National Assembly in Havana in 2014. AP

Cuba said on Monday that it was bringing forward the start of the national assembly session where a new president to succeed Raul Castro will be selected.

The assembly, whose members were selected in a March vote, had originally been set to meet on Thursday, but will now start its two-day "constitutive session" on Wednesday morning.

The change was to “facilitate the development of the steps that a session of such importance requires,” the national assembly said on its website.

The session will conclude on Thursday, a day of symbolic importance because it marks the anniversary of Cuba’s 1961 defeat of a CIA-backed Cuban exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs.

Mr Castro, 86, has said he will step down as president at the next assembly session after completing two successive five-year mandates. The man expected to succeed him is first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57.

Mr Diaz-Canel would be the first president since Cuba’s leftist 1959 revolution to be born after it. Castro, who formally took over the presidency 10 years ago from his brother, Fidel, will remain head of the Communist Party, Cuba’s sole political party.

The assembly is calling on Cubans to use the hashtag #SomosContinuidad (“We are continuity”) on social media during the two days it is meeting, reflecting the party’s desire to ensure stability.

The session will take place in the Palace of Conventions, the national assembly said, rather than its new seat, the Capitol, which is in the final phase of restoration work.