Raul Castro’s staunch ally sworn in as Cuban President

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Havana, April 19 (IANS) Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba’s 57-year-old first Vice President and Communist Party loyalist, replaced Raul Castro as the country’s new President on Thursday.

It is the first time since the revolution in 1959 that a Castro is not at the helm of the government.

Cuba’s National Assembly concluded a two-day session where Raul Castro stepped down after 10 years in the presidency and endorsed the election of Diaz-Canel, his handpicked successor, the BBC reported.

According to the National Assembly, Diaz-Canel was approved as the sole candidate for President. There was a single dissenting vote to Diaz-Canel’s nomination as he was confirmed by 99.83 per cent of the vote.

The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, designated by the constitution as “the superior guiding force of society and the state”.

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Afier the vote, the two men embraced each other as hundreds of National Assembly delegates cheered, the Cuban state TV reported.

In his inaugural speech, Diaz-Canel said that his mandate was “to ensure the continuity of the Cuban revolution at a key historic moment”.

He said that Cuba’s foreign policy would remain “unaltered” and that any “necessary changes” would be decided by the Cuban people.

He also said that there was “no room in Cuba for those who strive for the restoration of capitalism”.

–IANS

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