DPRK announces another SPA session

According to Yonahp:

North Korea will open its rubber-stamp parliament for the second time in less than two months, a session analysts say is likely to be joined by leader Kim Jong-il who recently returned from a trip to China amid rising tension on the Korean Peninsula.

The communist state’s official media reported Tuesday the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) will convene on June 7, exactly a month after Kim returned from his summit meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.

The last session, which was skipped by Kim, convened on April 9.

The 687-member assembly has not opened twice in one year since 2003. Even then, each session was held by a separate group of representatives, a Unification Ministry official here said.

“The (South Korean) government will closely monitor the upcoming session,” the official said, asking not to be named.

“This should be seen as an extraordinary session at an extraordinary time,” Paik Hak-soon, a North Korea researcher at the Sejong Institute, said. “Kim will likely be present to oversee it.”

Paik was referring to heightened tensions between the divided Koreas since a South Korean warship sank on March 26 near the western sea border with North Korea.

A ranking South Korean defense official said Tuesday investigators have found evidence that points to a North Korean attack on the 1,200-ton Cheonan. Forty-six of the ship’s crew members died when the ship split in half.

“The parliament will also declare its support for economic cooperation projects Kim has brought from China,” Paik said, adding that North Korea fears sanctions on it will tighten if Seoul and Washington conclude Pyongyang is to blame for the ship sinking.

Baek Seung-joo, a researcher from the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said Kim is likely to call for support for a power succession that has been secretly underway in Pyongyang.

“This will be much focused on domestic politics,” Baek said, discounting the significance of the meeting between the North Korean and Chinese leaders.

“We may see clear moves that indicate Kim’s third son is rising up the ladder,” he said, adding the ship sinking is unlikely to be a major topic as Pyongyang has already denied any link to the incident.

Pyongyang held its first session of the newly elected SPA last year, reappointing leader Kim Jong-il to another five-year term as head of the National Defense Commission, the highest seat of power.

A member of the 13-man commission was retired earlier this month due to his age, and Baek said that opens up room for a cascade of reshuffles that can help pave the way for a power transfer.

The coming session also comes as North Korea remains reluctant to return to stalled six-party talks on its nuclear weapons programs.

Pyongyang says it will rejoin the aid-for-denuclearization talks only if Washington agrees to launch separate talks toward a peace treaty to formally close the 1950-53 Korean War and the United Nations lifts its sanctions on the country.

The six-nation talks include the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan. Kim pledged to work with China to create “favorable conditions” for their resumption in his summit meeting in China, but Seoul and Washington say it depends on the outcome of the investigation into the ship sinking.

Cho Myung-chul, a North Korea researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy in Seoul, said the SPA may issue a statement denouncing any South Korean or U.S. moves linking the sinking to the North.

He noted that the U.S. Senate last week passed a resolution calling for a thorough probe of the incident, while South Korea will announce the results of a multinational investigation later this week.

“The SPA may announce measures and warning against South Korea and the United States,” Cho said.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea unexpectedly calls rubber-stamp parliament into session
Yonhap
Sam Kim
5/18/2010

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  • tibor gaal

    I agree that this is unusual to open two sessions, because they are too near to each other. Usually, a communist stae’s parliament has only one session per year, or, one session in spring and one in the autumn (both sessions used to be very short).


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