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North Korea endorses major reshuffle in country’s leadership

Lawmakers named a new prime minister and head of the Assembly’s Presidium

PYONGYANG, April 12. /TASS/. Lawmakers of North Korea’s unicameral legislature, the Supreme People’s Assembly, re-elected Kim Jong-un as Chairman of the State Affairs Commission and also named a new prime minister and head of the Assembly’s Presidium. These decisions are the most important changes in the DPRK’s leadership since April 2013.

During the first session of the 14th legislature the lawmakers elected Kim Jae Ryong as premier of the cabinet. Analysts say his appointment to the post is a sign of a crucial staff rotation in the North Korean leadership. He replaced Pak Pong-ju, 80, who assumed the post in April 2013.

Most ministers retained their posts in the cabinet, including Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Minister of External Economic Relations Kim Yong-jae. Only three ministers will be replaced - the minister of labor, public health and machine-building industry.

New chair of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly will be Choe Ryong Hae, one of closest Kim’s allies. The Presidium has the powers of the Supreme People’s Assembly between its sessions. Choe also received a promotion in the State Affairs Commission, where he was appointed as first deputy chairman. So, he became person number two in North Korea’s executive power after Kim. Choe replaced one of the country’s oldest politicians - Kim Yong Nam, who turned 91 this February.

The important personnel reshuffle in the supreme North Korean leadership was announced during the first session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly, which was convened in Pyongyang on Thursday. The legislature consists of 687 lawmakers, who are elected for a five-year term. As a rule, they gather once a year in Pyongyang to approve the country’s budget and vital bills within one day.