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Updated: Mon, 10 Mar 2014 00:11:38 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

North Korea's Kim Jong-un holds 1st parliament election in 5 years



North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Kim Il Sung University of Politics to take part in the election of a deputy to the Supreme People's Assembly at sub-constituency No. 43 of Constituency No. 105 together with service personnel of the KPA on March 9, 2014 in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (© KCNA)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Kim Il Sung University of Politics to take part in the election of a deputy to the Supreme People's Assembly at sub-constituency No. 43 of Constituency No. 105 together with service personnel of the KPA on March 9, 2014 in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA - RTR3GBIE REUTERS

North Koreans went to polling stations on Sunday to approve a new national legislature.

The vote for the Supreme People's Assembly is the first in five years and the first under leader Kim Jong-un. The last elections were held in March 2009, when 687 deputies were elected to the assembly. It is the most powerful body under North Korea's constitution, but which in reality has little political power.

Instead of choosing who they support, voters are given the choice of a 'yes' or 'no' for the single candidate on their ballot. Virtually all chose yes.

Mandatory voting

Despite the lack of drama, the voting was being held in a holiday atmosphere, with national flags hoisted along the streets, women decked out in colourful traditional clothing and dancing events held in parks, schools and riversides.

Voting in authoritarian North Korea is considered to be obligatory. Outside observers say that this makes elections in North Korea an opportunity for the authorities to check up on the population and tighten control.

Hyon Byong Chol, the chairman of a preparatory committee for one of the sub-districts in the election, called the vote "meaningful" because it is the first under Kim.

"Through this election we will fully display the might of the single-hearted unity of our army and people who are firmly united behind our respected marshal," he said.

The Supreme People's Assembly usually runs five-year sessions. It meets only rarely, often only once a year. When it is not in session,its work is done by a smaller and more powerful body called the Presidium.

Kim Jong-un a candidate

Kim is also a candidate. State media announced that his constituency is a remote mountain area on the border with China. Mount Paekdu is venerated in North Korea's official history as the birthplace of Kim Jong-il, although historians outside the country agree that he was born in the former Soviet Union.

Election results are normally announced the following day.

The new parliament was expected to meet next month. No date has been officially announced.

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