Cuban President Raul Castro, previously scheduled to leave office in February, will remain at the head of the Caribbean island's government two months longer than expected, it has been reported.
The younger brother of late revolutionary leader Fidel is now slated to step down in April 2018, right after his successor is chosen by an elected governing council, known as the Council of State, which is formed by the National Assembly.
"When the National Assembly is constituted (in April), my second and last term as head of state and the government will be concluded, and Cuba will have a new president," Castro said when closing the parliamentary session on Thursday.
Castro's initial departure date was set to coincide with the country's electoral calender. However, the 31-member Council of State has yet to be selected by the 600-seat National Assembly. Voting has been rescheduled due to widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
In a closed session, lawmakers voted that the process will now take place on April 19, according to PressTV.
Castro officially asumed the presidency in 2008 after serving two years as Cuba's interim leader. Despite stepping down from his current role in 2018, he will remain as head of the Communist Party of Cuba until its next congress in 2021.
Still manning the helms of Cuba's revolutionary government, Castro took aim at the current U.S. administration this week, describing its policies as a "serious and irrational regression in Cuba-US relations."
He cited the "intensification of the embargo, the return of aggressive and disrespectful rhetoric, and the arbitrary aplication of unjust measures that greatly affect ties between the two countries" as evidence of increased hostilities toward the small island of 11.5 million people.
Nevertheless, he recalled that the Cuban revolution has "withstood the onslaught of 11 (U.S.) administrations and here we are; we shall remain free, sovereign and independent."