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North Korean Leader Encourages Voters in Parliamentary Elections


North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is urging citizens to vote in next month's parliamentary election.

In an open letter released Wednesday by North Korea's state media, Mr. Kim says the election will "exalt the dignity and authority" of the communist state. He says the vote is being held in a period "where a fresh revolutionary upsurge" will lead to a more prosperous North Korea.

The election for the Supreme People's Assembly was slated for last year, but was postponed amid reports the 67-year-old Kim suffered a serious stroke. Only one candidate from the ruling Communist party is chosen to run in each district, rendering the elections as a mere formality.

Kim himself will be running as a candidate in a military constituency.

Observers say the elections could lay the groundwork for Kim's successor. South Korea's Yonhap news agency says Mr. Kim has named his third and youngest son, 25-year-old Kim Jong Un, to succeed him, citing unnamed intelligence sources.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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