Cuban state media say new president to be elected Wednesday

Diaz-Canel sole candidate to succeed Raul Castro

The certain approval of Diaz-Canel by members of the unfailingly unanimous National Assembly will install someone from outside the Castro family in the country's highest government office for the first time in almost six decades. The fifty-seven year-old former engineer is expected to take office on Thursday.

Raul Castro came to power in 2006 when his older brother Fidel, who had ruled for nearly half a century, stepped aside due to deteriorating health. Also: Police in Iceland say a man suspected of masterminding the theft of six-hundred computers that were used to mine virtual currencies has escaped custody, and for the first time in more than thirty five years, a Hollywood film has been shown in a cinema in Saudi Arabia.

The session will last for two days.

Observers are unanimous that the first deputy president of the State Council and Council of Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57 (number two in Cuba's power hierarchy) is slated for the highest post.

Diaz-Canel smiled and joined the applause of the president. Now, after more than a decade in charge and after some of the biggest changes in Cuba's history, Raul Castro is expected to step down and hand over leadership to the first non-Castro since the country's Communist revolution in the 1950s. While the younger and more tech-savvy political figure is said to be in touch with the people, locals and political insiders believe that the legacy of the Castro family regime will likely continue.

Cuba's parliament, however, won't officially reveal the results of the vote until it readjourns Thursday.

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The silver-haired Mr Diaz-Canel has spent decades climbing the party ranks, becoming Castro's right-hand man in 2013.

Under the Cuban Constitution, the president of the State Council is the head of state and government.

Some members of Cuba's small dissident community - who are viewed by the government as working for the United States to destabilise the government - have condemned Diaz-Canel's presidency before it has even begun, saying it would simply be more of the same. Only one, 85-year-old Ramiro Valdez, was among the revolutionaries who fought with the Castros in the late 1950s in the eastern Sierra Maestra mountains. So what will Cuba's future be under the new leader?

But Díaz-Canel is taking the reins at a time of transition for Cuba. "Strategically, Diaz-Canel must confront renewed hostility from the US administration". Fidel Castro died in 2016 aged 90. Relations with Washington had been hostile since soon after Fidel Castro took the island on a sharply leftward path after the revolution.

A vote was not done by the Cuban people, but instead, a secret vote was held by the Cuba National Assembly, Wednesday, which ended the 60-year Castro family reign.

In 2003, Diaz-Canel was moved to be party chief in Holguin province, a centre of Cuba's burgeoning tourism industry and foreign investment.

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