World

Cuba's New President Diaz-Canel Vows To 'Continue' Revolution

Cuba's New President Diaz-Canel Vows To 'Continue' Revolution

Two years after taking over from his ailing brother in 2006, Castro launched a series of reforms that expanded Cuba's private sector to almost 600,000 people and allowed citizens greater freedom to travel and access to information.

Mr Diaz-Canel added there would not be a compromise in Cuba's foreign policy, which has seen tensions with the United States in particular escalate over many years, and would hold dialogue with anyone who treated the island as an equal. The result was officially announced this morning, with all but one of the 604 National Assembly members voting for him.

The communist revolution in Cuba "carries on and will carry on", he said.

"The people have given this assembly the mandate to provide continuity to the Cuban Revolution during a crucial, historic moment that will be defined by all that we achieve in the advance of the modernization of our social and economic model", Diaz-Canel said.

Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel (C) arrive for a National Assembly session that named the latter as the candidate to succeed Castro as president, in Havana, April 18, 2018. He promises to defend the socialist revolution.

Díaz-Canel highlighted the achievements in the worldwide arena of??the Raul Castro presidency includingnthe restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States after decades of confrontation and hosting the signing of the peace agreement in the Colombian conflict.

Raul has been in power since 2006, when he took over after illness sidelined Fidel.

"The Communist Party of Cuba is more important than the National Assembly or even the Council of State", said Al Jazeera correspondent Lucia Newman. After the terms expire in 2028, Diaz-Canel should use his other position as the head of the Communist party to guide his own successor before stepping down in 2031. He became higher education minister in 2009 before moving into the vice presidency.

Diaz-Canel's half-hour speech offered most Cubans by far their greatest exposure to the man long expected to assume the presidency.

Cuban policemen patrol the Old Plaza, March 15, 2017, in Old Havana Cuba.

Political campaigning is outlawed in Cuba, so little is known about Diaz-Canel's plans to navigate these challenges. But he appeared to express some hardline views during a close-door meeting with Communist Party members a year ago, which was captured on video and leaked online to the public.

"We will continue to stand in solidarity with the Cuban people as they call for freedom and prosperity", the official said.

State media went into overdrive Wednesday with a single message: Cuba's system is continuing in the face of change.


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