Pyongyang’s parliament to hold meeting on April 11

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Pyongyang’s parliament to hold meeting on April 11

North Korea will host a parliamentary meeting on April 11, the first in nearly nine months, its state media said Wednesday.

The fifth session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) will be held in Pyongyang, according to the Korean Central News Agency, without elaborating any further.

Convened once or twice every year, the SPA is the North’s parliamentary body, but is known to hold very little power over legislation, usually rubber-stamping decisions already made by leader Kim Jong-un. South Korea’s Ministry of Unification weighed in on the possibility that the North might focus on deciding annual budget plans in the upcoming meeting, but said it would also watch out for any mention of the regime’s nuclear and missile development programs.

In the most recent parliamentary meeting, held late last June, North Korea revised its constitution to establish what it called the State Affairs Commission, with Kim as its chairman, replacing the military-oriented National Defense Commission.

The measure was largely seen by local pundits as another effort by Kim to cement his grip on state affairs by claiming the top post of a new state body, and appointing cronies loyal to him in senior positions. The disbanded National Defense Commission was a state organ used by his father, Kim Jong-il, in his military-first policy. Several senior government officials with longstanding ties to the late leader were also removed or transferred to other peripheral posts as the younger Kim replaced the positions with his own picks.

Kim Jong-un has presided over seven SPA meetings so far after taking the helm of the country following the death of his father in December 2011.

In the fifth session of the 12th SPA in April 2012, North Korea took the bold step of revising its constitution to inscribe its status as a nuclear weapon state, adding that it was part of the legacy of former leader Kim Jong-il.

“Our comrade Kim Jong-il … safeguard socialism, the honorable legacy of comrade Kim Il Sung, transformed our motherland into an undefeated, political and ideological power, a nuclear state and invincible military power that has paved a glittering boulevard for the construction of a strong and prosperous country,” read the new foreword in North Korea’s constitution.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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