N. Korea amends constitution

Pyongyang, Aug 30 (IANS) North Korea's Parliament has amended its Constitution to further cement Kim Jong-un's leadership with even more wide-sweeping powers, the state-media reported on Friday.

The plenary of the Supreme People's Assembly approved "some amendments and supplements to the Socialist Constitution", according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), including the status of the chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), a position held by Kim, Efe news reported.

The amendment "constitutionally fixes the status of the SAC chairman as the supreme leader of the Party, state and armed forces" of the country.

The SAC chairman, who can no longer be elected at the ballot box to hold a seat of the Supreme People's Assembly as until now, is "authorized to promulgate SPA ordinances and major SAC decrees and decisions and to appoint or recall diplomatic envoys to foreign countries".

In this way, Kim's role has been further consolidated "to firmly ensure the monolithic guidance of the Supreme Leader over all the state affairs", KCNA said.

At the time of declaration of the results of the elections to renew the Supreme People's Assembly, whose actual role is to automatically endorse the decisions taken by Kim and North Korea's only political party, the leader was not named among the 687 seats in the chamber - something unprecedented in the country's history.

This has led experts to determine that the isolated country was seeking to modify its Constitution in order to strengthen Kim's position and officially make him the head of state, something that was already done at the first plenary session in April.

On the other hand, this second parliamentary meeting of the year was expected to provide clues about the direction of North Korean foreign policy, especially at a time when negotiations with the US on denuclearization remain stalled.

However, KCNA has refrained from providing any information on the matter.

Since the failed summit in Hanoi in February, Pyongyang has tightened its stance and even conducted several short-range missile launches.

Talks were expected to resume during the summer after Kim and US President Donald Trump held an impromptu meeting in June on the inter-Korean border

--IANS

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