Cuba begins 5-month political transition

FILE - In this March 17, 2015 file photo, Cuba’s President Raul Castro listens to the playing of national hymns during his welcoming ceremony at Miraflores presidential palace before the start of an emergency ALBA meeting in Caracas, Venezuela. Cuba will begin on Monday, Sept. 4, 2017 an electoral process that will presumably conclude with the departure of Castro from the presidency. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)



HAVANA (AP) — 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 country’s political system for nearly 60 years.

Over the rest of this month, Cubans will meet in small groups to nominate municipal representatives. Cuban officials say 12,515 block-level districts will nominate candidates for city council elections Oct. 22.

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 congress 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, though he is expected to remain head of the Communist Party.

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