Cubans start search for successor to Raul Castro

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Havana, Sep 5 (IANS) Thousands of Cubans gathered in neighbourhood assemblies to nominate candidates for local and regional representatives, marking the first step toward the eventual election of a successor to top leader Raul Castro.

In this first stage, which will run until September 30, two or more candidates for “delegates” will be nominated in the more than 12,000 districts of the country based on their merits, prestige and ability, Xinhua news agency reported.

In one of Old Havana’s most popular neighbourhoods, about 200 people met in a street adorned with Cuban flags and a banner with a picture of the late Fidel Castro to nominate the candidates who will best represent them over the next two-and-a-half years.

On Monday night, an assembly was held in each of the country’s 168 municipalities. During the next three weeks more than 45,000 neighbourhood meetings will take place to nominate candidates for local representatives.

According to the Cuban Electoral Law, any citizen can be nominated for a delegate. He or she doesn’t have to be with a political organization or the ruling Communist Party.

Elections for delegates to municipal and provincial assemblies will take place on Octtober 22. The process will conclude in February when new members of parliament will elect the nation’s top leader.

The National Assembly is expected to pick the President and members of the Council of State in February when Raul Castro is expected to step down.

Raul Castro, 86, took the helm of the country in 2008 from Fidel Castro.

–IANS

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