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Miguel Diaz-Canel elected as Cuba's new president, vows continuity of socialism

(Xinhua)    15:41, April 20, 2018

Raul Castro (R) raises the hand of Miguel Diaz-Canel during a session of the National Assembly of People's Power in Havana, capital of Cuba, April 19, 2018. Miguel Diaz-Canel was elected on Thursday as Cuba's new president, as the successor of Raul Castro, who concluded two consecutive five-year terms in office. (Xinhua/Irene Perez/CUBADEBATE)

HAVANA, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Miguel Diaz-Canel was elected on Thursday as Cuba's new president, as the successor of Raul Castro who concluded two consecutive five-year terms in office.

In his first speech as the new head of state before the National Assembly, Diaz-Canel said that "in this new legislature there will be no space for those aspiring to a capitalist restoration."

"Only for those aspiring to continue improving our socialism," said the president.

Diaz-Canel said that "by decision of the people, the only choice we have is to continue the work started by the founding fathers of Cuban revolution in 1959, through the unity of all the generations of Cubans."

The leader highlighted the responsibility of taking the presidential office and remarked that he "will fulfill with honour the orders of the people, following the steps of the historic first generation of the revolution."

Regarding the election of the new legislature, Diaz-Canel described it as the "ratification of the democracy," with the main protagonist being the Cuban people.

"It is a legislature, which emerged from the people, who will control its function and will participate in the decision of measures and the implementation of the approved policies," Diaz-Canel said.

Diaz-Canel, former first vice-president and an electronics engineer who will turn 58 this Friday, was nominated by the National Candidature Commission on Wednesday after he was proposed by the 604 National Assembly lawmakers to head the country.

After handing over the presidency to his successor, Castro, 86, remains as a lawmaker in the parliament and as the first secretary of the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba, which is considered as the leading force of the Cuban society.

Diaz-Canel acknowledged Castro as an elder statesman who after two consecutive terms continues to enjoy trust and affection of the people.

"Knowing people's feelings in favor of Raul Castro, he will continue to head the most important decisions regarding the country's present and future," Diaz-Canel said at the plenary session of the parliament.

Since taking office as acting president of Cuba in 2006, Raul Castro has led a complex reform process designed to modernize the island's aging socialist model "with serenity, firmness, modesty and without being intractable," said Diaz-Canel.

"He will continue as First Secretary because he is an example to every Cuban revolutionary and communist, and because Cuba needs him to offer his ideas, and to warn of any mistakes and flaws," said Diaz-Canel.

The new president tried to allay any fears sparked by the transition, which marks the first time since the 1959 Revolution that Cuba's president is not one of the main architects of the revolutionary movement.

"I know the concerns and expectations raised by a moment like this, but we can count on the strength and intelligence of our people, the leadership of the communist party, the legacy of Fidel Castro, and the presence of Raul Castro, the current leader of our revolutionary process," said Diaz-Canel.

The new president highlighted some of Raul Castro's main achievements during his 10 years in office, including restoring diplomatic ties with the United States, driving Latin American and Caribbean integration, and helping the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas reach a definitive peace deal by backing and hosting the talks in Havana.

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(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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