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North Koreans vote in 'parliamentary election'

State media has said nearly all eligible North Koreans voted in an election for the country's nominal parliament. There was almost 100 percent turnout for the compulsory poll, with only one candidate per district.

On Sunday, the state-run KCNA news agency reported that "overjoyed" voters had rushed to polling stations across the country early in the morning.

Many of those taking part in the poll to vote for members of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) had danced and played music on the street in praise of leader Kim Jong Un.

State television showed people wearing brightly colored national dress as they made their way to the polling stations for the vote, which doubles as a national head count. Many were seen to be dancing and playing music. There were also pictures of Kim - recently warned by the UN that he could face

prosecution for atrocities carried out in labor camps

- casting his own vote along with other members of the Pyongyang elite.

People dance to celebrate as the nation holds elections for deputies to the 13th Supreme People's Assembly (Photo: REUTERS/Kyodo)

State televeision showed people wearing national dress and dancing in the street

Though no figures were immediately available, the numbers were expected to be similar to those in 2010, when 99.98 percent of registered voters took part. Candidates enjoyed a 100 percent rate of people voting in favor.

Footage taken in Kim's district showed soldiers bowing to portraits of Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the nation's founding president and the new leader's grandfather.

"I gave the vote, the evidence of my loyalty, to our supreme leader comrade," one soldier said in a TV interview.

Results are a foregone conclusion, with only one approved candidate standing in each of the country's 687 constituencies. Instead of being given a choice of representatives, citizens are asked to vote "Yes" or "No" for the designated individual.

Clues to shifting sands

It was the first SPA election of Kim's rule, and may give some indication of changes within the country's power structure following the

execution of his uncle and one-time mentor Jang Song Thaek

in December.

Many top officials are members of the SPA, and the absence and presence of names may be indicative of who is in or out of favor. "It's a chance to see who might be tagged for key roles under Kim Jong-Un," Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University for North Korean Studies told the AFP news agency.

Like his father, who died in December 2011, Kim also stood as the candidate for constituency No. 111, Mount Paektu. Official propaganda states that Kim Jong Il was born on the slopes of the mountain, which has something akin to divine status.

The SPA only meets once or twice a year, last doing so in April 2013, when it adopted a special ordinance that formalized the country's status as a nuclear weapons state.

Ahead of the vote, state media promoted the election with poems under titles such as "The Billows of Emotion and Happiness" and "We Go To Polling Station." Messages displayed on posters included: "Let us all cast 'yes' votes."

rc/mkg (AFP, Reuters)

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