Castro era comes to an end in Cuba as new president sworn in

Miguel Díaz-Canel has pledged to remain loyal to the legacy of his predecessors

Castro era comes to an end in Cuba as new president sworn in

Miguel Diaz-Canel (C) attends a session of Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power, in Havana, Cuba. Picture by: Joaquin Hernandez/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The Castro era has come to an end in Cuba after the country's president Raúl Castro formally left government.

Power is being handed over to Miguel Díaz-Canel - who has become the country's first president outside the Castro family in more than 40 years.

Fidel Castro served as prime minister of the country following the communist revolution in 1959, before becoming president in 1976.

His brother Raúl - himself a key revolutionary figure - took over as president in 2008.

He has now retired following his second term in office, after previously confirming he would not seek re-election.

He will, however, remain head of the country's ruling Communist Party - and his presidential successor is a close ally of the outgoing 86-year-old leader.

The country's National Assembly today formally elected Mr Díaz-Canel as the country's new leader, after he previously served as vice-president. He was elected unopposed.

In a speech to assembly members, he pledged he would ensure "the continuity of the Cuban revolution at a key historic moment".

The 57-year-old was born in 1960 - meaning he is the country's first president born after the revolutionary period of the 1950s.

Critics and opponents of the Cuban government have said they do not expect any radical reforms under the new leadership.

Jose Jasan Nieves, editor of an alternative news outlet in Cuba, told Reuters: "We always wish the symbolic would translate into real and concrete actions for our lives. But this isn’t the case."

Human rights groups around the world have continued to criticise the Cuban government on a number of grounds - such as its use of arbitrary detention against critics and opponents.

While the country enjoyed a brief improvement in relations with the US under Barack Obama, relations between the two neighbours have deteriorated again under the Trump administration.