North Korea to hold parliamentary elections in March
Pyongyang announces elections for hand-picked members of its rubber-stamp parliament
North Korea said yesterday it would elect members of its rubber-stamp parliament in March, which could provide a glimpse into any changes in the country's power elite after the execution of leader Kim Jong-un's uncle.
North Korea usually holds parliamentary elections every five years and the polls are largely a formality because candidates are believed to be handpicked by the ruling Workers' Party. But since members of the Supreme People's Assembly typically hold other top posts, the elections are closely watched by analysts for any hints of a shift in power.
This year's election will be the first since Kim took power after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011. Kim had his uncle Jang Song-thaek executed on treason charges last month.
Kim is expected to use the elections to replace ageing legislators with younger ones loyal to him, said analyst Cheong Seong-jang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.
The official Korean Central News Agency said the elections would be held on March 9. In 2009, 687 new assembly members were elected, with turnout of nearly 100 per cent and all voters backing the sole candidate running in each constituency.
North Korea's parliament typically meets once or twice a year to approve personnel changes and fiscal plans.