September 29, 2010 07:36
The youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been given senior posts in the ruling communist party and commissioned a four-star general in Pyongyang's armed forces.
North Korea's state-run news agency announced Wednesday that Kim Jong-un was named to the central committee of North Korea's Workers' Party. He also was appointed vice-chairman of the party's powerful central military commission, which his father heads.
Analysts who study the reclusive North Korean state say the senior positions given to Kim Jong-un are a sure sign that he is being groomed to succeed his father as the country's supreme leader. Kim Jong-un is believed to be about 27 years old.
Kim Jong-il's younger sister, Kim Kyong-hui, also was commissioned a four-star general this week, and the party conference elected her to full membership of the Workers' Party Political Bureau. Kim Kyong-hui's husband, Jang Song-taek, was elected an alternate or non-voting member of the Political Bureau. Kim's sister and her husband have been seen as supporters of Kim Jong-un, who had never before been identified by North Korea's state-controlled media until this week.
The Workers' Party meeting and leadership election, which apparently ended after Tuesday's session, was the communist group's highest-level gathering in 44 years. Official news media reported that thunderous applause welcomed Kim Jong-il's re-election as the party's general secretary, the top leadership position.
Some analysts said the Kim Jong-un's rapid rise to such senior positions suggests there are serious concerns about the health of his father, who is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008. In the event of Kim's death, it is believed that Kim Kyong-hui and her husband Jang Song-taek would help to ensure a smooth succession.
Some information in this story was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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