HAVANA – Cuba announced on Saturday that elections will be held on March 11 to choose new members of the National Assembly (unicameral parliament), a process that will culminate the following month with the selection of a new president to succeed Raul Castro.
Also on March 11, elections will be held to choose delegates to Cuba’s 15 provincial assemblies (regional parliaments), the Council of State said in an official note published in Communist Party daily Granma.
The new parliament was originally scheduled to be installed on Feb. 24.
But the National Assembly voted on Dec. 21 to push the date back by two months – to April 19 – because of delays to the electoral calendar caused by Hurricane Irma, which devastated parts of the Caribbean island in September and triggered more than $13 billion in economic losses.
The new parliament will choose the country’s next president, first vice president and other members of the Council of State.
That process will be historic because for the first time in six decades the island’s head of state will not be either the 86-year-old Raul Castro, who took over as president in 2008, or his late brother, Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
“When the National Assembly is installed, I will have concluded my second and final term as the head of state and government, and Cuba will have a new president,” Castro told the unicameral legislature on Dec. 21 in its last plenary session of 2017.
Cuba’s 57-year-old first vice president of the Council of State, Miguel Diaz-Canel, an advocate for continuity of the island’s socialist model, is expected to succeed Castro.