Pyongyang confirmed yesterday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be a candidate in next month’s parliamentary elections, which will be closely watched for clues on power shifts in the nation.
The national assembly is largely a rubber-stamp body with little authority, but many top North Korean officials are members, and Kim’s father, late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, stood for election when he was in power.
The results are a foregone conclusion, with only one approved candidate standing for each of the 687 districts.
The presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) announced last month that the election — held every five years — would take place on March 9.
It will be the first under the leadership of Kim Jong-un and comes as he seeks to cement his grip on power after purging his uncle Jang Song-thaek.
Kim was “unanimously” nominated to stand for the Mount Paektu constituency No. 111, the North’s official KCNA news agency said on Monday.
Koreans have traditionally attributed divine status to Mount Paektu and, according to the North’s propaganda, Kim Jong-il was born on its slopes.
According to KCNA, Kim Jong-un’s nomination was celebrated with a dance party for military personnel in the constituency, which wound up with a lively rendition of the song We Will Defend General Kim Jong-un at the Cost of Our Lives.
The SPA meets once or twice a year, mostly for a day-long session, to rubber-stamp budgets or other decisions made by the ruling Workers’ Party. The last session, in April last year, adopted a special ordinance formalizing the country’s position as a nuclear weapons state — a status that both South Korea and the US have vowed not to recognize.
Kim Jong-un succeeded his father in December 2011, and next month’s election will be watched for any revelations on the changing power structure in Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-un has already overseen sweeping changes within the North’s ruling elite — the most dramatic example being the execution of his powerful uncle and political mentor Jang last month on charges of treason and corruption.
Jang was also a member of the SPA, and next month’s vote will provide an opportunity to see if any senior figures are removed from the candidates’ list.