North Korean Army chief purged from power?
N Korea’s top military commander Ri Yong-ho, who was abruptly removed because of ‘illness’, has been purged from power, analysts suggested.
Pyongyang: North Korea’s top military commander Ri Yong-ho, who was abruptly removed from all his posts because of ‘illness’, has been purged from power, analysts have suggested.
Pyongyang’s state run media offered that as the formal reason for relieving him in a high-level party meeting convened to talk about “the organizational issue.”
According to The Christian Science Monitor, the use of that ominous phrase left no analyst in doubt that the chief of staff of the country’s 1.2 million-man military establishment, has been purged.
Analysts also gave no credibility to the official explanation of “illness”, considering that generals and senior officials often retain their posts well into their 70s and 80s.
According to the paper, the sense among analysts is that Ri’s apparent ouster represents the tip of the iceberg of a power struggle in which Kim Jong-un is battling to strengthen his grip over a leadership structure that may be in danger of fragmenting at the highest levels.
“We wonder if Ri’s dismissal means weakness or strength. As far as I know, Ri was number two next to Kim Jong-un,” the paper quoted Ha Tae-keung, president of Open Radio for North Korea, as saying.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, outside analysts called Ri’s removal the first major power play of Kim Jong-un’s regime.
The report said that the change is the most significant in the North Korean hierarchy since Kim took power after his father``s death in December.