26 Jun 2010

North Korea makes plans to elect new leader

8:29 pm on 26 June 2010

The ruling Communist Party in North Korea says it will convene a meeting of party representatives in September to elect a new leadership.

The ABC reports it will be only the third meeting of the Workers Party since the communist state was founded more than 60 years ago.

Correspondents say the move suggests North Korea may be starting the process of power transition as leader Kim Jong-il paves the way for his youngest son to succeed him.

Mr Kim suffered a stroke in 2008 and his son Jong-un is widely believed to be his favoured choice as the dynastic state's next leader.

Meanwhile, the United States has warned North Korea to refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region, amid concerns that Pyongyang may be preparing a new round of missile tests.

The US State Department says it is aware North Korea has issued a nine-day ban on shipping off its western coast. This type of notification has preceded missile tests in the past, the BBC reports.