Cuba holds municipal elections on road to Castro era’s end

HAVANA,  (Reuters) – Cuba took another step yesterday toward the end of the Castro era, with millions of residents placing paper ballots in cardboard boxes for ward delegates to municipal assemblies.

The vote comes the day after the first anniversary of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro’s death and precedes another election early next year for provincial and national assembly deputies.

The new national assembly, where 50 percent of the deputies must be ward delegates elected on Sunday, is expected on Feb. 24 to select a new president to replace Raul Castro, Fidel’s 86-year-old younger brother, who has said he will step down after serving two five-year terms.

The Castro brothers have headed the government since the 1959 revolution.

Raul Castro will remain head of the Communist Party until 2021, the only legal party in Cuba.

Nearly 27,000 candidates are running for 12,515 ward positions in Sunday’s election, the only part of the electoral process that is contested publicly and with direct participation by ordinary Cubans.

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