The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) named a brother-in-law of leader Kim Jong-il to a powerful military post on Monday and sacked its premier in moves seen as consolidating Kim's grip on power and paving the way for his youngest son to succeed him.
Kim attended a rare session of the parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, to personally name Jang Song-thaek as vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, the DPRK's KCNA news agency said.
The commission, headed by Kim himself, represents the pinnacle of power in the DPRK.
The second assembly session in two months came amid growing momentum in the international community to punish Pyongyang for the sinking of a Republic of Korea (ROK) navy corvette in March that killed 46 sailors.
Jang, who had once fallen out of Kim's favor but has since returned to his inner circle, is the husband of the leader's sister, and is viewed as the key figure for ensuring a smooth transfer of power from Kim to one of his sons.
The parliament also sacked the country's premier, who is considered the top economic official, and replaced him with parliament member Choe Yong-rim, another confidant of Kim's family who has been in key economic posts.
The dismissal of premier Kim Yong-il is likely linked to a currency revaluation late last year that, according to some media reports, incited widespread public discontent.
Kim Jong-il, who suffered a stroke in 2008, missed the previous session of the Supreme People's Assembly in April, which amended the country's constitution to strengthen his power.
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
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Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.