Posted March. 04, 2005 22:27,
On March 3, North Korea made an unexpected announcement that the third session of the 11th Supreme Peoples Assembly (SPA) will be postponed. The session was scheduled for March 9.
It is the first time North Korea has put off its prearranged Supreme Peoples Assembly since August 25, 1948 when the first session of the first Assembly was convened to approve the constitution and elect Assembly members.
According to the March 4 report from the North Korean Central News Agency, the Standing Committee of the SPA said on March 3, At the request of SPA members on the front line of building a socialist nation, the SPA session scheduled for March 9 will be postponed. A new date for the session will be determined later and posted.
The Supreme Peoples Assembly is North Koreas nominal legislative branch that corresponds to South Koreas National Assembly. The SPA holds one or two sessions a year. The government body mainly handles the previous years budget settlement, discusses the budget for the year, elects executive members of major government organs, and confirms laws.
A high-ranking insider of the Unification Ministry commented on the delay, saying, It seems that the North Korean leadership concluded that they need more time to internally clarify its position after declaring that it possesses nukes and that it will cancel the suspension of missile tests. The government also understands North Korea is heightening the tension among the public in order to maximize unity within the regime.
Another analysis is that the postponement is a byproduct of the regimes worries about the July 1 2002 economic reforms not producing noticeable fruit. Since 2002, North Korea has been keeping specific figures on the size of its economy to itself while just releasing limited numbers about some tax items or the growth rates concerning those items.
Korea University North Korea Studies Professor Yoo Ho-yeol commented, The delay of the SPA session resulted from a combination of the insecure international situation, the wobbly national economy, and consequently weaker internal unity.