Cuba dissidents present slate of candidates for 2017 election

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Havana (AFP)

Opposition leaders said Thursday they plan to present a slate of candidates for next year's legislative and local elections, an act of political defiance in communist-governed Cuba.

The move, technically illegal in this one-party state, comes the same year that President Raul Castro leaves office, a post he has held since February 2008.

Manuel Cuesta Morua, spokesman for the opposition activists who are technically banned but tolerated in practice, said that around 90 candidates would be put forward, to promote "free and pluralistic" elections on the island.

The opposition platform will also advocate "recognition of the Cuban diaspora as part of the nation" and the "development small and medium size private enterprises" on the island, he said.

Another dissident leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer from the Roundtable for United Democratic Action (MUAD), said "the majority of Cubans are tired, and don't have the least bit of faith in the regime." He predicted protests and public discontent will increase in Cuba.

The announcement comes in the wake of Cuba's recent rapprochement with the United States and a resulting uptick in investment and commercial activity with various foreign nations.