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Cuba holds one-party vote as post-Castro era looms
World | politics | 09:29, 13 March 2018 | 494

AKIPRESS.COM - Cubans went to the polls on Sunday in a one-party vote, the last step before a new president is selected next month, as the Communist-ruled island prepares to be led for the first time since the 1959 revolution by someone whose last name is not Castro, Reuters reported.

Cubans are asked to endorse two official lists of candidates for the national and provincial assemblies. The government depicts the vote, which takes place every five years, as a symbolic show of unity in the face of U.S. hostility.

This year, though, the new national assembly will select a president to replace 86-year-old Raul Castro on April 19. Starting with Raul’s late older brother Fidel, the Castros have ruled the Caribbean island for nearly six decades.

Leaders of the Cuban exile community in the United States, including Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, have called on President Donald Trump not to recognize the election results, saying the process is a fraud designed to legitimize a dictatorship.

Raul Castro voted with little fanfare at dawn in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountains in southeast Cuba, where he had led a group of guerillas during the revolution.

Castro, who succeeded his brother as president in 2008, is expected to remain at the helm of the powerful Communist Party while First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57, is expected to become president.

Diaz-Canel, a party functionary since his youth, would be Cuba’s first modern head of state who was born after the revolution and has no military history.

In central Villa Clara province, where Diaz-Canel grew up and was head of the Communist Party, the candidate and his wife voted alongside local residents, smiling and chatting with them.

He told reporters the election signaled that Cubans wanted to defend their independence, and criticized the Trump administration for undermining a fragile detente established under former U.S. President Barack Obama.

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