Monday, 16 July 2012

Army chief of North Korea removed from office

The head of the North Korean Army was relieved of his duties "due to illness," said Monday, July 16 the agency official, a public announcement in this country very unexpected secret, which signals the willingness of the new leader curb the power of the military analysts said.

Ri Yong-ho, 69, is considered one of the key figures who supported the young leader Kim Jong-one during the transition of power in North Korea following the death of his father, Kim Jong- it, in December 2011. The Chief of Staff, appreciated Kim Jong-il, was appointed in 2009 to head the army, consisting of 1.2 million soldiers (for a population of 24 million inhabitants), the fourth the world in terms of numbers. He had been seen repeatedly in recent months accompanying the new leader when touring military bases. He was present at the tribute paid by Kim Jong-un to his grandfather Kim Il-sung on the occasion of the anniversary of his death in early July.

At a meeting of the Politburo of the ruling party, it was decided "to raise Ri Yong-ho of all its functions [...] due to illness," said KCNA, the news agency North Korean, received in Seoul. Ri was a member of the Presidium of the Politburo, the body's most powerful countries, which do serve a handful of individuals, and vice-president of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea, the agency said . This party is the only North Korea, Communist dictatorship headed by an iron fist since 1948 by three generations of Kim (grandfather, father and son).


The Ministry of Unification of South Korea, responsible for relations between the two countries, noted the side "unusual" the KCNA announcement. "What was announced as quickly is very unusual. We study the situation with interest," said the press spokesman of the Ministry. Ri Yong-ho was one of seven executives of the party and the army to have accompanied Kim Jong-un the side of the hearse of his father Kim Jong-il in December.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, questioned the official reason for the departure of Chief of Staff, noting that Pyongyang rarely dismissed for health reasons, the top regime officials, many of which are very old. "He may have fallen out of favor with Kim Jong-un, or has lost a power struggle with other military leaders," suggests the expert.

For Paik Hak-soon of the Sejong Institute, the young leader seeks to strengthen control of the Communist Party over the army, become too powerful for him under the Songun policy ("military first") continued by his father until 2010. "Jong-A will now ensure that the party keep under control an army that has become overloaded, an effort that his father had begun to undertake the end of 2010", a year before his death, says the analyst.

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