Cuban Leader Raul Castro to remain in office until April, elections postponed

Cuban leader Raul Castro will remain in power until at least April 19, 2018 after the government postponed the historic presidential elections, citing impacts from Hurricane Irma, the official Communist Party newspaper announced Thursday.

Castro, 86, had initially said he would retire at the end of his two terms on Feb. 24, Miami Herald reported. The election for the new National Assembly was also scheduled to be held then.

The official Communist Party newspaper Granma published the announcement and said the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, which struck the island in September, forced the delay of Cuba's political cycle.

Some analysts predicted Castro would extend his time in power because of recent events, including its economy in recession and the diplomatic crisis involving health attacks on U.S. diplomats in the city’s capital Havana, according to the Miami Herald.

It’s still unclear who would succeed Castro, who took power in 2008 and replaced late leader and brother Fidel Castro. Cuban first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel has been seen as a potential candidate.

The upcoming election is the first since Fidel Castro, who died in November 2016, reintroduced a limited election in 1976, the Miami Herald reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.