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North Korea to Hold Vote for Rubber Stamp Parliament

  • VOA News

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claps hands during the Supreme People's Assembly's second meeting of the year, in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sept. 25, 2012.
North Korea has announced that it will hold elections for its rubber stamp parliament in March, the first such vote to take place under Kim Jong Un.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday the election for the Supreme People's Assembly will be held March 9.

The election, held every five years, is largely a formality, with only one approved candidate standing in each district.

However, because the body is composed of many top officials, the outcome will be watched closely to see if Kim further consolidates power.

Last month, Kim ordered the execution of his once-powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, along with several of his top aides in a shocking leadership purge.

Jang, who was widely considered to be Kim's mentor and second-in-command, was accused of plotting to overthrow the state.

In a New Year's Day speech, Kim said Jang's execution was necessary to cleanse "factional filth" from the ruling Worker's Party.

Jang was a member of the Supreme People's Assembly, and the new makeup of the body could reveal further changes in the country's secretive power structure.

Although it is symbolically important, the assembly has little actual power. It convenes only twice a year, typically to unanimously approve government budgets, constitutional amendments and official appointments.

The last parliamentary election was held in March 2009 under ex-leader Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011 and passed power to his son, Kim Jong Un.