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Convention Could Decide North Korea`s Next Leader

Posted September. 28, 2010 12:51,   


Who the next leader of North Korea will be could get clearer Tuesday, when the North`s ruling Workers` Party opens its first convention in 44 years.

As the communist country`s biggest political meeting in 30 years, the conference will likely reveal the shape of the post-Kim Jong Il government in Pyongyang. Kim Jong Un, the reclusive leader`s youngest son who is apparently the successor due to his father`s ill health, is expected to assume a key post such as party secretary, a standing member of the party`s politburo, or a member of the party`s central military committee.

But certain analysts say Jang Sung Taek, Kim Jong Il`s brother-in-law, will consolidate his position as the North`s No. 2 man to establish an interim government for passing on power to the third generation of the Kim dynasty.

The convention could see the party fill key posts, including standing members of the politburo or members of the central committee, little of which is known, and thus recover collective leadership inside the party and embrace a generational shift of the power elite through the replacement of key positions.

Of the 145 members of the central committee elected at the sixth party convention in 1980, only 48 remain. The number of official members has fallen from 19 to three and that of candidates for the politburo from 15 to five.

An expert said, "Through this party convention, third and fourth-generation party members born after the Korean War will take off en masse," adding, "There`s a chance that the North will embrace a major shift in its policy vis-à-vis the U.S. and South Korea or toward its economy due to changes in the power elite."