Kim Jong Un has been re-elected as North Korea’s leader in a shakeup of the country’s ruling personnel.
Mr Kim was again named chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the nation’s most important decision-making body.
The election came at the first session of the Supreme People’s Assembly which re-elected Mr Kim because of his “outstanding ideological and theoretical wisdom and experienced and seasoned leadership”, state media reported.
The leader, 35, holds many government, military and ruling party leadership titles, but he technically rules the country in his capacity as commission chairman – a post he was first elected to in 2016.
One of Mr Kim’s top lieutenants, Choe Ryong Hae, was appointed president of the assembly’s presidium – a council of executive officers – and also elected to the new post of first vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission.
The presidium president post is North Korea’s nominal head of state, although all power is heavily concentrated on Mr Kim, the third-generation member of his family to rule the North since his grandfather founded it in 1948.
Some observers say Mr Choe’s appointment to first vice-chairman of the state commission could allow him to oversee diplomacy with the United States as it gives him control over the country’s nuclear negotiators.
Mr Choe has been a rising star since Mr Kim came to power in late 2011.
He went to China and Russia as Mr Kim’s special envoy, and has assumed a series of high-profile jobs, including the top political officer in the North’s 1.2 million-member military.
Mr Choe’s election to head the presidium means the departure of 91-year-old Kim Yong Nam, who has served all three generations of the ruling Kim family.
Three of the senior officials involved in nuclear negotiations with the United States have been re-elected or newly-elected to members of Kim Jong Un’s state commission.
They include former military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol, who travelled to Washington to meet Donald Trump twice before the North Korean leader’s two summits with the US president in Singapore last year and Vietnam in February.
The leaders looked to thrash out an agreement for Pyongyang to halt its nuclear weapons programme.
The fate of Kim Yong Chol had been the focus of South Korean media speculation since the second Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi ended without any agreement because of disputes over US-led sanctions on the North.
(c) Sky News 2019: Kim Jong Un re-elected as North Korea’s leader in personnel shakeup