HAVANA - Cuban leader Raúl Castro announced on Sunday he would step down from power after his second term as president ends in 2018, and the new parliament named a 52-year-old rising star to become his first vice president and most visible successor.
Castro, 81, made the announcement in a nationally broadcast speech shortly after the Cuban National Assembly elected him to a second five-year term in the opening session of the new parliament.
"This will be my last term," Castro said.
In a surprise move, the new parliament named as his first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel, a member of the political bureau who rose through the party ranks in the provinces to become the most visible possible successor to Castro.
Diaz-Canel would succeed Castro if he cannot serve his full term.
The new government will almost certainly be the last headed up by the Castro brothers and their followers who have ruled Cuba since they swept down from the mountains in the 1959 revolution.
Raúl Castro starts his second term immediately, leaving him free to retire in 2018, at 86.
Former president Fidel Castro joined the meeting, in a rare public appearance. Since falling ill in 2006 and ceding the presidency to his brother, the elder Castro, 86, has given up official positions except as a deputy in the National Assembly.