Cuba is about to name first prime minister in 40 years

Havana (AFP) – Cuba is to resurrect the position of prime minister in a parliamentary session at the end of the week, with President Miguel Diaz-Canel nominating a candidate to the post which has remained dormant for more than 40 years.

The last time Cuba had a prime minister, it was revolutionary hero Fidel Castro.

However the position was abolished in 1976 when Castro transitioned to the presidency, taking over from Osvaldo Dorticos after the country’s constitution was restructured.

No one knows yet who will be appointed, and the general public is in the dark as to what the role will even entail.

“I don’t know what his functions will be, I imagine that he’ll be helping that poor Diaz-Canel who never stops, going here and there trying to sort out the country,” said Maria Fernandez, a 65-year-old pensioner.

Parliament will meet on Friday and Saturday before appointing the prime minister based on a proposal by Diaz-Canel.

The new official will become “head of government” for a five-year term.

Diaz-Canel’s nomination must then receive an absolute majority in a National Assembly vote, according to the country’s new constitution, which was approved in April.

The appointment will also have to be ratified by the omnipotent Communist Party led by former president Raul Castro.

– PM parameters –

Fidel Castro was a unique prime minister “given the weight of his persona,” said Cuban professor Arturo Lopez-Levy of Holy Names University in California.

“Ultimate power in the country was in Fidel’s” hands during his time as prime minister from 1959-76, even though Dorticos was president and head of state, Lopez-Levy said.

The appointment of a prime minister may signify a separation of powers but Lopez-Levy insisted that in Cuba it represents more of a “separation of functions” given the communist concept of political unity and the fact that the country is a one-party state.

State bulletin Granma said Diaz-Canel will “assist the prime minister” in running the government.

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