HAVANA (AP) — The Latest on Raul Castro’s handover of Cuba’s presidency to Miguel Diaz-Canel (all times local):
Raul Castro says he sees new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel as his eventual successor as head of the island’s powerful Communist Party.
Castro made his first speech since handing the presidency over to Diaz-Canel, and used the opportunity to give his vision of the future.
He told members of the National Assembly Thursday that he expects Diaz-Canel to serve two five-year terms and can become head of the party once Castro leaves that position in 2021.
Castro praised Diaz-Canel’s leadership as a Communist Party official dating back to the “special period” of the 1990s when Cuba faced a deep economic crisis following the loss of subsidies because of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Raul Castro served as president for two terms since 2008.
President Mario Diaz-Canel has made his first speech as Cuba’s new head of state with a pledge to continue the socialist revolution led by his predecessors Fidel and Raul Castro.
Diaz-Canel says in the nationally televised speech before the National Assembly that his first thoughts upon taking office are for the “historic generation” that has led the country since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
The 57-year-old president says the country’s leadership cannot forget “for a second” its commitment to the people of Cuba.
Raul Castro sat in the front row of the assembly, gently rocking back and forth in his chair and occasionally seeming to nod in approval.
Raul Castro has passed Cuba’s presidency to Miguel Diaz-Canel, putting the island’s government in the hands of someone outside the Castro family for the first time in nearly six decades. He remains head of the powerful Communist Party that oversees political and social activities.
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)