SEOUL (AFP) — Leader Kim Jong-Il has been unanimously elected to a seat in North Korea's parliament, following a 100 percent turnout in his constituency, state media said Monday.
Sunday's elections for the rubber-stamp Supreme People's Assembly featured only one pre-approved candidate in each constituency. But analysts say they could pave the way for an eventual transition of power in the impoverished communist nation.
Kim, 67, was standing in military constituency 333, a lucky number in Korean. The new assembly will vote later to confirm him as chairman of the National Defence Commission, the country's most powerful body.
The central election committee said "all the voters of Constituency No. 333 participated in the election and voted for Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army Kim Jong-Il," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
"This is the expression of all service persons' and people's absolute support and profound trust in Kim Jong-Il," it added.
Voting for the parliament did not take place in 2008 when its five-year term expired, amid speculation over Kim's health. He is widely believed to have suffered a stroke last August.
Seoul officials say he has recovered well and is in control, but his health and age have inevitably led to talk abroad about who will succeed him.
The election committee announced later that 99.98 percent of all registered voters took part in the nationwide balloting and 100 percent voted for the candidate in their district.
It has announced the list of the 686 deputies elected, KCNA said without giving details.
Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University, said Sunday the election could see "a generation change" in the top ranks.
"The North will likely bring in the young to replace the elderly with a future possible power transition in mind," he said, adding Pyongyang's elite was overhauled after the 1998 and 2003 polls.
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