North Korea to hold parliamentary elections in March

January 7th, 2009 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, Jan 7 (DPA) Communist North Korea plans to hold elections for its parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, March 8, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday.Elections to the assembly, which serves only to rubber-stamp decisions by the North Korean Worker’s Party, are overdue, as the last five-year term expired in 2008. The elections are regarded a formality as candidates are hand-picked by the Korean leaders.

In South Korea, the announcement is regarded as another indication of Kim Jong Il’s recovery. Speculation abounded in recent months over the health of the 66-year-old North Korean leader, who South Korean intelligence officers believed to have suffered a stroke last summer.

In 2003, the 687-member-strong parliament confirmed Kim as chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission.

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 communist North Korean Workers’ Party.

According to the South Korean Defence Ministry, Pyongyang replaced at least five cabinet members in the past months, including positions in the departments of railways, electricity, agriculture and metal industry.

Officials with experience in the various fields were named to the posts, which analysts believe is connected to efforts to revive the Stalinist state’s stagnant economy.

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