Raul Castro to Step Down in 2018
He promotes rising star, says new term will be his last
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2013 12:39 AM CST
Fidel Castro made a rare appearance at the opening session of the National Assembly in Havana.   (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)
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(Newser) – Cuba will be getting a new leader in 2018—and for the first time since the Eisenhower administration, his name probably won't be Castro. Raul Castro was elected to a second five-year term by Cuba's National Assembly yesterday, and he declared that it would be his last, the AP reports. The 81-year-old, who took over from older brother Fidel in 2006, has chosen Miguel Diaz-Canel, a 52-year-old rising star in the Communist Party, as his top lieutenant.

Cuba is in a time of "historic transcendence," Castro said when telling lawmakers of his decision to make somebody far too young to have taken part in the 1959 revolution next in the line of succession. The president hinted at huge changes to come, some of which will have to be ratified in a referendum, but stressed that the country's system will remain intact. "I was not chosen to be president to restore capitalism to Cuba," he said. "I was elected to defend, maintain, and continue to perfect socialism, not destroy it."