North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

SPA To Convene on 13 April

DPRK state media reported on 24 March (Saturday) that the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] will convene on 13 April 2012 for its fifth session (plenum; plenary session).  The meeting of the country’s unicameral legislature has been scheduled during the range of possible launch dates of the U’nha-3 reported to international organizations by the Korea Committee for Space Technology.  The 12th SPA’s fifth session is also scheduled to occur at about the same time as the 4th Party Conference which was scheduled for “mid-April,” as well as 12 days ahead of the official 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army [KPA].  KCNA reports:

The Fifth Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK will be held here on April 13.

A relevant decision of the Presidium of the SPA was released on Thursday.

Kyodo English reports:

North Korea will convene a parliamentary session on April 13, the country’s official media reported Saturday, fueling speculation that leader Kim Jong Un may be elected chairman of the National Defense Commission, the leading state organ.

Analysts have been watching to see when Kim, who became supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army in late December, will inherit two other major posts his later father Kim Jong Il possessed as leader — general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and chairman of the National Defense Commission.

Article 100 of North Korea’s Constitution says the chairman of the defense commission is ”the supreme leader” of the country.

”The Fifth Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK will be held here on April 13,” the Korean Central News Agency said in a short dispatch from Pyongyang, referring to North Korea by the acronym for its official name the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The session comes two days before the country marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather.

There is growing speculation that Kim Jong Un may become general secretary of the party at a party conference slated for mid-April.

Once he inherits all three titles, North Korea will have effectively completed the transition of power to the younger Kim from Kim Jong Il, who died of a heart attack on Dec. 17 at age 69.

At the parliamentary session, delegates are likely to deliberate issues such as government activities and the state budget. They may also elect members of the National Defense Commission.

Xinhua English:

The Fifth Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK will be held onApril 13, and representatives of the SPA should be registered on April 11-12, said the KCNA ina brief dispatch, without elaborating its agenda.

The SPA is the supreme power organ of the DPRK, which holds the highest position andauthority of the country and exercises legislative power.

The announcement came as the country’s preparations for a satellite launch “have entered afull-fledged stage of action,” a spokesman for the DPRK’s foreign ministry said Friday.

According to the KCNA, the projected launch of the Satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 is to mark thecentenary of the birth of late President Kim Il Sung, and it is a worldwide trend to launch anduse satellites needed for a country’s economic development.

The spokesman said peaceful satellite launching is an exercise of “an independent andlegitimate right” for all countries.

The DPRK’s satellite launch is “an issue fundamentally different from the February 29 DPRK-US Agreement,” as the DPRK has consistently clarified that “the satellite launch is not includedin the long-range missile launch” covered by the DPRK-U.S. high-level talks, the spokesmanadded.

Kim Jong Un has not been reported to be a deputy (delegate) to the SPA.  According to some Pyongyang watchers, KJU was elected under a pseudonym during the SPA election in March 2009.  He has also not been reported in attendance at any SPA sessions and no images or video footage of him attending a session have surfaced in documentary films or other media promoting his succession.  After the announcement of the 4th party conference, some watchers estimated that the 5th session of the 12th SPA would be held to appoint KJU as his father’s replacement as Chairman of the National Defense Commission [NDC].

However, the central leadership may defer KJU’s NDC appointment until another 12th SPA session in 2012 or 2013, or wait until 2014 when the country elects and convenes the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly.  Kim Jong Il did not become an SPA deputy until the convocation of the 7th Supreme People’s Assembly in 1982, which took place after he was elected to the Political Bureau Presidium, Party Secretariat and Party Central Military Commission during the 6th Party Congress in October 1980.  And yet, there is no constitutional mandate  that the NDC Chairman be an active deputy of the SPA to qualify for election to the DPRK government’s highest office.

Even if Kim Jong Un is a deputy to the SPA, he is most likely its youngest member.  According to a brief news item published on Urminzokkiri (Urminjokkkiri) on 23 February 2012, 49.5 % of SPA deputies were ages 35-55 and 50.5 % were age 56 or older.  The same news item reported that of the 12th SPA’s 687 deputies: 15.6 % were women; 16.9% were officers or service members of the KPA; 10.9% were factory or clerical workers; 10.1% were agricultural workers; 94.2% graduated from an institution of higher learning; and, 42.4 % were recipients of the Kim Il Sung Award, Hero of the Republic or other state titles.

The last session of the 12th SPA was held on 7 April 2011.  In addition to approving the DPRK Cabinet’s policy and budget proposals for the year, Gen. Ri Myo’ng-su was appointed Minister of People’s Security to replace the dismissed Gen. Ju Sang Song.  Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary Pak To Chun was elected a member of the National Defense Commission [NDC] to replace Jon Pyong Ho.  Neither Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un nor Mr. Pak attended the 12th SPA’s 4th session.  At the time, KJI was touring factories and other locales in Chagang Province.  It is highly likely that during this particular tour, KJI was involved in setting policy guidance around the Sohae Center’s maiden launch

One comment on “SPA To Convene on 13 April

  1. Pingback: Weekly News Brief – 28 March 2012 « NORTH KOREA NEWS BRIEF

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