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Miguel Diaz-Canel officially named Cuba's new president
20 April 2018, 12:49 | Bernice Figueroa
US sees no greater freedom in Cuba under new president, no change in policy
The chamber erupted into applause as the results of the poll were read out, with numerous delegates smiling and shaking hands warmly with Castro and Diaz-Canel.
Cuba's new President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who was on Thursday named as Raul Castro's successor, vowed to keep the Caribbean island on the path of "revolution" but also on the path of economic reform.
Cuba's First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel (C) takes part in a session of the National Assembly in Havana, April 18, 2018.
Raul Castro's retirement from the presidency of Cuba has its own theme song.
The Cuban-born lawmaker told The Associated Press Thursday that as long as Raul Castro remains, "There are really no changes".
However, 86-year-old Castro may rule the country from behind the scenes as he will continue to preside over the Communist Party of Cuba. Castro said he foresees the white-haired electronics engineer serving two five-year terms as leader of the Cuban government, and taking the helm of the Communist Party, the country's ultimate authority, when Castro leaves the powerful position in 2021.
According to the National Assembly, Diaz-Canel was approved as the sole candidate for President.
As Diaz-Canel walked to the front of the chamber, he high-fived the front row of delegates and embraced Castro as he took the stage, images broadcast on state television showed.
"He comes from the system, but it is the rigidity of the system which is the biggest obstacle to pushing forward with the necessary political and economic changes", said Michael Shifter, head of Washington-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue. "For us, it's totally clear that only the Communist Party of Cuba, the guiding force of society and the state, guarantees the unity of the nation of Cuba".
Díaz-Canel highlighted the achievements in the global 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. "Cuba needs him, providing ideas and proposals for the revolutionary cause, orienting and alerting us about any error or deficiency, teaching us, and always ready to confront imperialism".
Now Gonz-lez, 24, has emerged as one of the most effective advocates for the revolution and many Cubans believe he will one day have a leadership role.
Most Cubans know their first vice president as an uncharismatic figure who until recently maintained a public profile so low it was virtually nonexistent.
Diaz-Canel inherits a youthful population hungry for change. Worldwide observers and Cubans alike will be scrutinizing every move he makes in coming days and weeks.
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.
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