Elections in North Korea possible in 2009: analysts

December 31st, 2008 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, Dec 31 (DPA) North Korea may conduct parliamentary elections in 2009 to prepare the country for time after Kim Jong Il, South Korean analysts said Wednesday.Pyongyang was likely to hold parliamentary elections to the Supreme People’s Assembly in July or August 2009, the official Yonhap news agency and the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper said, quoting a report by the Institute for National Security Strategy.

The institute is the research arm of the South Korean intelligence service.

In 2009, a number of elderly lawmakers were to resign and be replaced by younger politicians who were part of the “economic elite”, the report said.

Economic pragmatism could gain dominance in the impoverished communist state over Kim Jong Il’s “military first” policies, the report said.

Elections are overdue, as the five-year term of the 687-member assembly expired in 2008. At the 2003 elections Kim Jong Il was confirmed as chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission.

According to South Korean intelligence reports, the 66-year-old suffered a stroke this summer. Months of absence from the public fuelled speculation over the true state of his health. Kim has not yet officially named a successor.

The people’s assembly is nominally the highest power in the state, but only meets twice a year for a few days to pass the budget and discuss policy guidelines. It mainly ratifies previous decisions by the North Korean Workers’ Party.

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