[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
North Koreans vote in local elections
Polls seen by analysts as rubber-stamp procedure to help Kim Jong-il strengthen the position of his son and heir.
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2011 13:48
 The polls are being viewed as a procedure for Kim Jong-il to strengthen the position of his son and heir [Reuters]

North Koreans went to the polls for the first time in four years to take part in what analysts say is a rubber-stamp election for members of the local assemblies.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said on Sunday that local assembly elections began across the country as songs reverberated and flags fluttered over polling stations crowded with voters.

The local assemblies meet around once or twice a year to approve budgets and regional leaders appointed by the party.

The local elections are widely seen as a step to help strengthen the leader Kim Jong-il's hereditary succession by securing the power base for his third son Kim Jong-un.

'Symbolic support'

Little is known about Kim Jong-un. He is said to be in his late twenties and was unveiled as a four-star general last September, despite having no previous military experience.

His first public appearance was in October last year when he attended the ruling Workers' Party's 65th anniversary celebration.

This was seen as fully confirming his position as the next leader of the Workers' Party, with unprecedented international press access granted to the event.

Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at City University in Hong Kong, said the local election in North Korea was a measure for local authorities "to monitor grassroots activities" and an exercise to pave the way for the leadership succession process.

"This gives an opportunity for the local officials to monitor grassroots activities as well as support for the regime," said Cheng.

Cheng said the local election could be regarded as a step preceding elections of the Supreme People's Assembly which, in turn, will select the country's leader.

"It's speculated that this election exercise may facilitate symbolic support for the leadership succession process," Cheng said.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Lawsuit by 6-year-old girl, locked up for a year, reignites debate over indefinite detention of 'boat people'.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Citizens of the tiny African nation say they're increasingly anxious of the fallout after alleged coup.
A humanitarian crisis and a budget crisis converge in the heart of the human smuggling corridor in Texas.
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
join our mailing list