Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Cuban President Raul Castro will remain in office until April, the country's government announced on Thursday.
Castro had publicly stated his intentions to step down on Feb. 24, but Cuba's National Assembly voted to extend the current legislative term to April 19.
Cuba will elect a new legislature as well as president of the Councils of State and Ministers, positions currently held by Castro, in the April election.
Jose Luis Toledo Santander, the assembly's chairman of constitutional and legal affairs, said damage from Hurricane Irma, which delayed legislative elections in September, made it impossible to make the transition in February.
Castro took office for his late brother Fidel in 2008, when his health began to decline, and said in 2013 he would step down at the end of his second legislative term.
The elder Castro died in 2016 and the upcoming election will mark the first time neither brother has ruled the country since they took power in 1959.
Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel has been considered to be the most likely candidate to replace Castro.
It is unclear how much power Diaz-Canal will hold as president, as Castro will remain the head of the country's Communist Party.