Raul Castro to step down as Cuba's leader next April

Raul Castro to step down as Cuba's leader next April

Cuban President Raul Castro plans to stay in office until next April before stepping aside, two months longer than originally anticipated, which then would end almost six decades of Castro family rule of the communist country.

Castro, 86, previously said he would retire on February 24 when elections to the National Assembly were initially scheduled.

Cuban officials chose to push back the highly anticipated transition because the government in September delayed legislative elections in the wake of damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

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Castro smiles during a recent meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Havana.

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

There was no mention of Diaz-Canel's role in the official announcement.

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Castro will be replaced when his successor is chosen by a top governing council, Cuba's National Assembly has agreed.

"Diaz-Canel is ideal for that because he does not have any power, nor anyone who follows him, nor a commanding voice", Gonzalez said.

Raul Castro, 86, the younger brother of longtime Cuban President Fidel Castro, was designated president in 2008 as his brother was in poor health. Fidel Castro died previous year after relinquishing power to his brother in 2008.

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