HAVANA, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Cuba launches the grassroots nomination process for local and regional representatives on Monday night, marking the first step towards the eventual election of a successor to President Raul Castro.
Elections for deputies to municipal and provincial assemblies will take place on Oct. 22, and they will be closely watched, since the process will conclude in February with the new members of parliament electing the nation's top leader.
Esteban Lazo, president of Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power, stressed the importance of the process in a nationwide address calling on Cubans to participate.
"Given that the Provincial Assembly and the National Assembly are composed of up to 50 percent constituency delegates, if a neighbor from our community is an elected delegate, or provincial delegate, or deputy, they are also eligible to assume one of the highest offices at the provincial level, or even within the highest body of state power," said Lazo.
Neighborhood assemblies in 168 cities and towns across the country will begin nominating candidates, a process that will end on Sept. 30.
The process will conclude when the approximately 600 members of the newly-formed legislative assembly votes for the next president.
Raul Castro has said he will step down at the end of his second term in 2018.