North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has presided over a gathering of officials to mark the second anniversary of his father’s death. This came just days after the execution of his uncle and former mentor.
North Korean state television broadcast footage on Tuesday which showed thousands of officials from the country's military and its ruling party gathered at the mausoleum in central Pyongyang to pay tribute to Kim Jong Il, who passed away two years ago.
The officials sat in complete silence for several minutes before erupting into applause when Kim Jong Un took his place at the leaders' podium.
What followed was a series of speeches, which expressed unquestioning loyalty to the younger Kim, who rose to power upon the death of his father on December 17, 2011.
"We should be warriors to safeguard the party centre with our lives ... with the conviction that we know no one but the great comrade Kim Jong Un," Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's head of state said in his opening speech.
"By holding the respected comrade Kim Jong Un in high esteem ... our country will prosper as the country of eternal sun," he added.
The head of the country's armed forces, Choe Ryong Hae, was no less effusive in his praise of the country's leader.
"Our revolutionary forces know ... no one but comrade Kim Jong Un," said Choe, who holds the military rank of vice marshall.
He also issued a stern warning, which analysts understood to be directed at South Korea or its allies.
"If the enemies drop a single drop of fire on our motherland, our soldiers will immediately storm out to wipe out all the invaders and achieve unification," Choe said.
Searching for clues
South Korean and other observers watched the live broadcast to see if Kim Jong Un's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, would be in attendance. However, there appeared to be no sign of the aunt, who is also the widow of Jang Song Thaek, the uncle, former ally and mentor to Kim Jong Un, who was convicted of plotting a coup and executed last week.
Some analysts have interpreted the conviction and execution of Jang as a bid by the young leader to tighten his grip on power.
pfd/kms ( dpa, AFP)