North Korea said it dismissed its chief army general, Ri Yong Ho from all his official posts due to illness, prompting some speculation of a possible internal struggle among elites in the isolated country.
“The Central Committee of the Workers’ Party held a politburo session on (July) 15 and decided to relieve him of all his duties as a member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee, member of the Politburo and vice chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission due to his illness,” state media reported, according to The Korea Herald.
Ri was considered one of young leader Kim Jong Un’s top military advisers and is said to be a key figure in helping Kim take control of the country after his father died in December.
“We cannot rule out the possibility that the army chief of the general staff Ri Yong Ho was dismissed on account of Kim Jong Un’s unsatisfactory military grip or as a result of a power struggle in North Korea,” Chang Yong Suk, an analyst with the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University, told the Yonhap News Agency.
Hong Hyun Ik, a researcher at the Sejong Institute think tank, said that the move to dismiss him over an illness is too drastic for it to not be politically motivated. He noted that Ri may have been against the promotion of new general, Choe Ryong Hae.
“The possibility is that the decision was made in order to get things straightened up amid some sort of rivalry between Ri and Choe,” he told the Herald.
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