North Korean state media on July 16 announced the dismissal of Ri Yong Ho, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, from all of his posts. The announcement came a day after an organizational meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.Ri’s dismissal ostensibly was due to health reasons, though it is highly unusual for the North Koreans to dismiss senior officials so quickly even if they have fallen ill or had a stroke or another debilitating condition. Rather, the North Koreans often simply allow such individuals to slip from public sight for months and quietly reveal a new person in the position. No successor to Ri has been named. The very public and perfunctory dismissal is seen as a reflection of a rebalancing of power between the North Korean military and the civilian Workers’ Party but may also reflect a potential opening for renewed dialogue between Pyongyang and Seoul. AnalysisRi rose to power through the early 2000s under then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and was promoted to two-star general in 2002 and three-star general a year later. Ri became chief of the military General Staff in 2009 and in 2010 was appointed as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission along with current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Ri’s role as a second-generation leader, his connections with Kim Jong Il and in particular Kim Jong Un’s uncle Jang Sung Taek (who has played a critical role in North Korea‘s political balancing since Kim Jong Il fell ill a few years before his death), made Ri an important figure in the transition to Kim Jong Un and helped to solidify the military’s support behind the young leader. His removal, then, came as a surprise to North Korean observers in South Korea and elsewhere. Although Kim Jong Un has been expected to reshape the ranks of the political elite as he solidifies his rule, high-level changes were not expected so soon. In part, the dismissal may reflect a further transition of the core power base for Kim Jong Un from the military his father relied on to the civilian Workers’ Party of Korea — a process Kim Jong Il set in motion before his death. The dismissal may also be a warning to the military that Kim Jong Un is confident in his position and that the military should not consider countering or challenging some of the domestic social and economic changes under way. But the dismissal may also be a way for Kim Jong Un to pave the way for a resumption of talks with South Korea or to even clear the path for a summit with outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung Bak. North Korean and South Korean relations were significantly strained by the 2010 sinking of the South Korean navy ship Cheonan and by the North Korean shelling of the South’s positions on Yeonpyeong later the same year. One of the preconditions Seoul has made for a resumption of dialogue with the North (and the potential for resumed aid and investment) is that North Korea should identify and punish those responsible for the attacks on the South. Removing Ri could be a signal to the South that this has been done and a way to distance Kim Jong Un from complicity in the actions. In most situations, it is difficult to gain a clear understanding of what is going on in North Korea‘s closed political system, but Kim Jong Un is certainly seeking to change his image domestically, loosen up social and economic restrictions and direct envoys to promote greater international economic and political connections. Ri’s dismissal may just be part of a power struggle or a rebalancing of influence between the Workers’ Party and the military. However, it could also be a strong indication from the new regime that Kim Jong Un is both in charge and ready to embark on his own foreign policy initiatives, and a summit with South Korea would both strengthen his domestic and international claim to authority and potentially open the way for renewed economic assistance.
Nota:Talvez o lider parlamentar do PCP nos possa explicar o que se passa neste país democrático