Members of the local electoral commission speak during the nominations of candidates for municipal assemblies in a neighbourhood of Havana, Cuba, September 4, 2017.REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Opponents of the Cuban government are putting forward an unprecedented number of candidates for municipal elections in late October, the first step in a process to select a new president after nearly 60 years of the Castro brothers' rule.The municipal vote, the only part of the electoral process with direct participation by ordinary Cubans, is expected to attract 35,000 candidates for the island's 168 municipal assemblies. It will be followed by provincial and national assembly elections in which candidates are selected from slates by commissions.The new national assembly will in late February select a successor to President Raul Castro, 86, who has announced he will step aside after two terms. During the last election, the three dissidents nominated lost at the polls.This year, however, one coalition of opposition groups, Otro18 (Other18), says it is running more than 160 candidates in the municipal elections, demanding electoral reform and government transparency.
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