Cuban President Raul Castro plans to stay in office until next April before stepping aside, two months longer than originally anticipated, which then would end nearly six decades of Castro family rule of the communist country.
Cuba's parliament on Thursday extended its legislative period by two months to April 19 because of the impact of Hurricane Irma in September. With the current council of state — the powerful group Castro heads — also staying until mid-April, it ensures that the 86-year-old leader will remain in power until then.
Castro's first vice president, Miguel Diaz Canel, 57, is expected to be Cuba's next president, even as Castro remains the leader of the Caribbean island nation's communist party.
But Castro's departure would end 59 years of Castro family rule, starting with the revolutionary takeover of the government by Fidel Castro in 1959 when he overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista. Fidel Castro died last year after relinquishing power to his brother in 2008.
Canel has pledged to continue Raul Castro's policies, including limited growth of private enterprise as part of the country's planned economy, single party rule, and tight government control of virtually all aspects of life for Cubans.