Havana, Apr 19 (EFE).- Cuba’s National Assembly on Thursday confirmed Miguel Diaz-Canel as the Communist-ruled island’s new president, a day after the parliament had selected him as the sole candidate to succeed Gen. Raul Castro.
But Castro, who leaves the post after 12 years at the helm, will continue to take the lead on key national decisions, the new head of state said.
The 57-year-old Diaz-Canel, who had been the first vice president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, received 99.83 percent of vote in the National Assembly, according to the head of the National Electoral Commission, Alina Balseiro.
After the results were announced, the new president was applauded by Cuban lawmakers and received a congratulatory handshake and hug from Castro, as seen on national television minutes after Cuba’s official news agencies released the outcome.
Lawmakers also confirmed the remaining members of the Council of State, Cuba’s top government body, including new First Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa.
The team of five vice presidents will consist of Cuban Revolution veteran Ramiro Valdes, Public Health Minister Roberto Morales, Comptroller-General Gladys Bejerano, National Institute for Water Resources Director Ines Maria Chapman and Santiago de Cuba Provincial Assembly President Beatriz Johnson.
In his first speech as president on Thursday, Diaz-Canel said Castro would continue to take the lead on “decisions of the greatest importance for the nation’s present and future.”
“With firmness, without attachment to positions, with serenity, maturity, trust and revolutionary steadfastness, he legitimately and on merit remains at the head of the political vanguard,” Diaz-Canel said, referring to Castro’s continued tenure as first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party until the next congress in 2021.
Castro, for his part, said Thursday that he had full confidence in Diaz-Canel, a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo and a former minister of higher education, hailing his “virtues, experience and the dedication to his work” he has shown since the start of his political career.