Fidel Castro and the Cuban communist party have given the green light for reforms paving the way for a new, younger generation of leaders in the single-party state, state media said Monday.
As expected, Sunday's session of Cuba's National Assembly re-elected Castro's 82-year-old brother Raul to serve a second and final five-year presidential term.
But the assembly also promoted Miguel Diaz-Canel, 52, already a member of the Council of State, to a senior vice presidency of that panel, making him the number two figure in the regime.
The official newspaper Granma said Monday that the changes were approved on Sunday at a meeting of the Communist Party central committee, whose members had not been told in advance of the changes.
Castro, 86, attended Sunday's meeting, in which the National Assembly that was elected February 3 with no opposition candidates took up its seats.
It chose a new 31-member council of state, Cuba's top executive body, with Raul Castro again as its president.
Diaz-Canel already had a post, but was promoted to first vice president, sweeping past some Castro revolutionary era veterans who are historic figures of the gerontocracy that now rules the country.
Diaz-Canel, as political heir, cuts a starkly different profile from the revolutionary leadership, whose members are mostly in their 80s.
If he comes to lead Cuba, he would be the first leader of the regime whose entire life has been under the Castro regime that started in January 1959.
Barring any changes, Diaz-Canel would succeed Raul Castro, who will be 82 in June, if the president serves out his term through 2018.
Fidel Castro stepped aside as president in 2006. Raul Castro took over as acting president and officially became leader in 2008.