July 22 (UPI) — Former Cuban President Raúl Castro proposed changes to the constitution including altering the government’s structure and provisions for same-sex marriage.
Cuba’s parliament discussed the constitutional reforms — proposed by a commission led by Castro — on Saturday, including a new system of government in which the president would no longer have direct control over the Council of State or the Council of Ministers.
The president of Cuba’s parliament, the National Assembly, would have control over the Council of State, as well as the power to interpret the constitution if the draft is approved, while the Prime Minister would preside over the Council of Ministers.
Another proposal would restrict presidents to two terms, with an additional requirement that they must be younger than 60 years old at the start of their first term.
Castro, who stepped down as president at the age of 86, but still remains the head of the country’s ruling Communist Party and his older brother Fidel Castro, who died at the age of 90 in 2016, both held the office of president well into their old age. The elder Castro also served as president for more than 50 years.
The secretary of the Council of State Homero Acosta dismissed suggestions that the changes would leave the president as a ceremonial figure after the Castro family vacated the position.
It’s not a matter of “a ceremonial, figurehead president, but a president with [real] functions in the government,” he said.
The draft also proposed changes to the language of the constitution, which would remove the word “Communism,” although the constitution would maintain that Cuba’s socialist system is “irrevocable” and the Communist Party is the only legal party and holds a vanguard role in the country’s affairs.
It would also alter text in article 68 of the constitution to identify marriage as “the consensual voluntary union between two people” without specifying gender.
“I believe that the principles of equality, justice and humanism that our project has are reinforced by that possibility of marriage between two people,” Acosta said, according to the Havana Times.