Cuba government picks bureaucrat Miguel Diaz-Canel as sole candidate to replace Raul Castro

Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez (right) appears set to takeover from Mr Castro Credit: AP

A 57-year-old bureaucrat and right-hand man to outgoing leader Raul Castro is set to take over as Cuba's president, ending six-decades of rule by the Castro family.

Cuba's National Assembly has picked Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez as the sole candidate and voted on his nomination, with official results to be released later on Thursday.

Mr Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, a position that ensures he will remain the most powerful person in Cuba.

But the transition is important nonetheless as it may ensure Cuba's single-party system outlasts the aging revolutionaries who created it.

Raul Castro took power in 2006, taking over from his brother Fidel who died, aged 90, in November 2016.

He introduced some modest reforms, including greater freedom for Cubans to travel, but he failed to tackle the country's ailing economy.

Mr Diaz-Canel (left) was first vice president under Raul Castro (right) Credit: AP

Mr Diaz-Canel was first vice president, but was little-known until last year.

He was a party official in central Villa Clara province, holding a post equivalent to governor.

People described him as a hard-working, modest-living technocrat dedicated to improving public services.

He became the higher education minister in 2009 before moving into the vice presidency.

In a video of a Communist Party meeting that inexplicably leaked to the public last year, Mr Diaz-Canel expressed a series of orthodox positions that included somberly pledging to shutter some independent media and labeling some European embassies as outposts of foreign subversion.

But he also defended academics and bloggers, leading some to hope there may be an opportunity for greater openness.