Pyongyang leader to run unopposed

March 06, 2014 - 12:08:32 am
SEOUL:  North Korea, accused of human rights violations, elects its largely symbolic parliament this weekend, with leader Kim Jong Un, the third in his family dynasty to rule the totalitarian state, running unopposed in a legendary mountain district.

State news agency KCNA said on Thursday that election preparations were “gaining momentum”, with voters confirming their names on electoral lists for the ballot held every five years.

“Agitation activities are going on to encourage citizens to take active part in the election with high political enthusiasm and labour feats, amid the playing of ‘Song of the election,’” KCNA reported.

North Koreans, it said, sought to “demonstrate once again the might of single-minded unity by casting ballots for their candidates”.

North Korea stands accused by a UN report issued this month of torture and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities. Authorities in Pyongyang have denounced the report as “faked”.

The North’s Supreme People’s Assembly is empowered by law to approve the budget and make senior appointments, including to the powerful National Defence Commission.

In practice, it is a largely symbolic body meeting twice a year in a country where decision-making authority lies with the ruling Korean Workers’ Party.

Each district has a single candidate, with the overwhelming majority from the party, although a few independents, such as pro-Pyongyang Koreans from Japan, are allowed to take part.

Kim, presumed to be 31 years old, is standing for the 687-seat assembly for the first time since taking office in 2012 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. And he is running in Paektusan, an inactive volcano on the border with China described in national folklore as his father’s birthplace.