Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cuba Begins Transition to Post-Castro Era

Castro Era
Cuba on Monday began a five-month political transition expected to end with Raul Castro's departure from the presidency, capping his family's near-total dominance of the political system for nearly 60 years.

Over the rest of September, Cubans will meet in small groups to nominate municipal representatives, the first in a series of votes for local, provincial and, finally, national officials.

In the second electoral stage, a commission dominated by government-linked organizations will pick all the candidates for elections to provincial assemblies and Cuba's national assembly.

The national assembly is expected to pick the president and members of the powerful Council of State by February. Castro has said he will leave the presidency by that date but he is expected to remain head of the Communist Party, giving him power that may be equal to or greater than the new president's.

Cuban officials say 12,515 block-level districts will nominate candidates for city council elections to be held Oct. 22, AP reported.

An opposition coalition says it expects 170 dissidents to seek nomination in the block-level meetings that began Monday. A few opposition candidates made it to that stage previously but were defeated.

The government does not allow the participation of parties other than the ruling Communist Party and has worked to quash the election of individual opposition candidates, leading critics to call the votes an empty exercise meant to create the appearance of democratic participation.

Cuban officials say dissidents are paid by foreign governments and exile groups as part of a plan to overthrow the island's socialist system and reinstall the capitalism and US dominance ended by the country's 1959 revolution.

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