Cuba on Monday began a five-month process to hold elections at the municipal, provincial and national level, a transition which will end with Raul Castro stepping down as the country’s president in February 2018, AP reported.

The process will begin when 12,575 block-level districts nominate candidates for the city council elections, scheduled for October 22. However, only 170 “dissidents” are expected to seek nomination in the block-level meetings that began on Monday, Opposition officials claimed.

In the second stage of elections, a commission dominated by government representatives will pick all the candidates for elections to the provincial assemblies and Cuba’s national assembly. The national assembly will, in turn, choose the president and members of the Council of State by February 2018.

First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, a Communist Party veteran, is considered the favourite to take over as president from Raul Castro. A video of Diaz-Canel purportedly discussing plans to crack down on independent media, entrepreneurs and opposition groups trying to win municipal has been leaked to the public, AP reported. “It [the video] could serve to send a signal of official intentions not to create any political opening, without being an official government statement,” Armando Chaguaceda, a Mexico-based Cuban political scientist, said to AP, adding that the video may have been leaked by the government itself.