North Koreans voted yesterday in a pre-determined election for a rubber-stamp parliament — an exercise that doubles as a national head count and may offer clues to power shifts in Pyongyang.
The vote to elect representatives for the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) was taking place as scheduled, the state-run KCNA news agency said, adding that voter turnout was 91 percent as of 2pm.
Those who are ill or infirm and cannot travel to polling stations are casting votes at special “mobile ballot boxes,” it added.
Apart from the physical casting of votes, there is nothing democratic about the ballot. The results are a foregone conclusion, with only one approved candidate standing for each of the 687 districts.
State newspapers yesterday said it was the duty of “every single person” to vote in the poll.
The Rodong Sinmun — mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ Party — said the election would promote North Korea as a “dignified, prosperous and strong socialist powerhouse.”
State-run media have in recent weeks stepped up propaganda to promote the election, with a number of poems produced to celebrate voting under titles including The Billows of Emotion and Happiness and We go to Polling Station.
It was the first election to the SPA under the leadership of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who took over the reins of power after the death of his father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, in December 2011.
And like his father before him, Kim Jong-un stood as a candidate — in constituency number 111, Mount Paektu.
Koreans have traditionally attributed divine status to Mount Paektu and, according to the North’s official propaganda, Kim Jong-Il was born on its slopes.
Elections are normally held every five years to the SPA, which only meets once or twice a year, mostly for a day-long session, to rubber-stamp budgets or other decisions made by the Workers’ Party.
The previous session, in April last year, adopted a special ordinance formalizing the country’s position as a nuclear weapons state — a status that South Korea and the US have vowed not to recognize.
The real interest for outside observers is the final list of candidates or winners — both lists being identical. Many top North Korean officials are members of the parliament, and the election is an opportunity to see if any established names are missing.
It comes at a time of heightened speculation over the stability of Kim Jong-un’s regime.
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 Song-thaek in December last year on charges of treason and corruption.
“It’s a chance to see who might be tagged for key roles under Kim Jong-un,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University for North Korean Studies.
“The list of names can also point to what, if any, generational changes have been made,” he said.
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear