Cuba sets date for new leadership elections
Cuba's President Raul Castro delivers a speech during the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, December 21, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]
Cuba inched closer to electing its future leader on Saturday, after the government announced elections for regional and national legislators will take place on March 11.
National legislators will in turn vote for Cuba's next president and successor to Raul Castro, who is set to step down in April.
More than 8 million Cubans will be eligible to vote for the members of their provincial assemblies and the National Assembly, according to a government statement published by local media.
In the lead-up to the March vote, recently-constituted municipal assemblies are to hold an extraordinary session on Jan. 21 to nominate the candidates for the regional and national assemblies.
As part of this second electoral stage, half of the candidates will be nominated on that date by the more than 12,000 municipal delegates who were elected in November.
The other half have already been chosen by a committee representing the country's main social organizations.
Once the approximately 600 members of the National Assembly have been elected, the new legislature will convene on April 19 to elect a new president of the State Council, the post Castro currently occupies.
"When the National Assembly is constituted, I will have concluded my second and last term leading the State and Government, and Cuba will have a new president," Castro said in a recent speech to lawmakers.
Raul Castro, 86, officially came to power in 2008, after his brother Fidel Castro was forced to retire for health reasons.
Raul Castro has since spearheaded numerous reforms to modernize the country's aging socialist system.