09/28/2010, 00.00
NORTH KOREA
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Third Kim raised to the rank of general, mystery over the succession continues

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The conference of the Workers' Party of Korea re-elects ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il as general secretary, accepts the appointment of his youngest son as a four-star general. No word has been said yet about Kim Jong-un’s official appointment as successor.

Pyongyang (AsiaNews) – The first plenary session of the Conference of the Workers' Party of Korea opened today, the first one in 44 years, and re-elected ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il as its general secretary. Official sources reported that the election was met with an enthusiastic round of applause and a display of moving gratitude for the work of the leader, a source of light for the whole country.

It was also announced that Kim Jong-Il appointed his third son Kim Jong-un to the rank of four-star general. However, his investiture as heir designate remains a mystery.

Kim-Jong-il appointed 39 generals, including six four-star generals one of whom is his sister, Kim Kyong-hui, 64. Order No 0051, which formally announced the appointments, was issued in the middle of the night, just a few hours before the start of the congress.

The decision is meant to open the way for Kim Jong-un to force closer ties with the country’s military leadership, analysts say.

North Korea’s official news agency, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said that Kim Jong-il "firmly believes that the commanding members of the People's Army will continue to support the leadership of the party and complete the revolutionary exploit that was first begun in Mt Paekdu". According to the regime’s official propaganda, the ‘Dear Leader’ was born on the mountain (in fact, he was actually born in a Soviet refugee camp), and the event was heralded by the appearance of a new star.

In another report, KCNA announced that Ri Yong Ho, the current chief of the Korean People's Army General Staff, was promoted to the rank of vice marshal of the Korean People's Army, in what some observers consider a sign of goodwill towards the military leadership, whose support is fundamental for the consolidation of Kim Jong-un’s rule.

At present, the two Kims are probably discussing with military leaders how the former’s accession to power can be announced.

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