North Korean Workers' Party set to boost Kim Jong Un's power

North Korea's Workers' Party is set to reinforce the power of its leader Kim Jong Un at its first congress in more than 30 years, according to programme details released by state media on Saturday.

Observers expect that the 3,400 party delegates will boost Kim's power by confirming him in office, while it is yet unclear if he will get a new title or keep his current one of supreme leader.

The title of "eternal general secretary" has been reserved for his father Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011.

The party congress was also to discuss changes to the party's central executive and to the party's constitution, while the work of the central party committee and the accounts committee was also under review, according to the reports.

The congress is expected to run for three or four days, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Meanwhile North Korea appeared to be preparing for another nuclear test, according to recent satellite images published by a US website that monitors the country.

Vehicle activity was monitored at the command centre of the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site, according to 38 North, a website hosted by the US Johns Hopkins University's school of advanced international studies.

"While the historical record is incomplete, it appears that vehicles are not often seen here except during preparations for a test," 38 North said. "No vehicles or people were observed at this facility on imagery from May 2. However, what appears to be four closely parked vehicles are present on May 5."

Leaders and members of the Workers' Party of Korea opened the first congress in 36 years Friday, with leader Kim praising the country's January hydrogen bomb test as a success.

That test strengthened "the grandeur of the country and its power," Kim said in his opening speech, shown on local television.

The event is the first of its kind since Kim succeeded his late father in power over the isolated country four and a half years ago.

The military "seem to be maintaining a higher state of readiness," an unnamed official of South Korea's Defence Ministry was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

A live-fire military exercise may take place during the congress, and the meeting could see Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong promoted to a minister-level post, Yonhap reported Friday.

Nuclear and missile tests by Pyongyang since the beginning of the year have raised tensions with the US, Japan, South Korea and China, among other world powers.

Last update: Sat, 07/05/2016 - 15:40
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