Pyongyang: The abrupt dismissal of North Korea's military chief from all his posts was designed to remove opposition to major economic reforms about to be initiated by the country's young leader, Kim Jong-un, according to a report.
An unnamed source revealed that Army Chief Ri Yong-ho was sacked for opposing plans to seize control of economic policy from the military.
The source, with close ties to the governments in Beijing and Pyongyang, said a special cabinet had been created to take over control of the decaying economy from the military, which boasts 1.2 million troops, The Guardian reports.
According to the paper, the military's mishandling of the economy has been blamed for a crippling famine in the 1990s from which the country never properly recovered.
Ri had been one of the regime's most enthusiastic champions of the ‘songun’ military policy, first pioneered by the country's former leader, Kim Jong-il, who died in December last year.
The state-run media said Ri was removed from all his posts, including the influential role of vice-chairman of the ruling party's central military commission, due to ‘illness’.
According to the paper, his removal was the clearest signal yet that Kim Jong-un is determined to implement long-overdue reforms to save the economy and prevent the regime from imploding.
First Published: Saturday, July 21, 2012, 12:58