16:49 16 July 2012
North Korean military chief Ri Yong-ho has been removed from all official posts with immediate effect, the nation's state media has confirmed.
Ri was the head of the armed forces, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and also in charge of numerous posts in the ruling Workers' Party.
A brief statement claimed he was relieved of duty "because of illness". Non successor has yet been announced.
Numerous reports have suggested that a power play is going on behind the scenes and Ri's ideas clashed with the state's. Ri's growing power could've been seen as a rival to Kim Jong-un.
In Seoul, Kim Hyung-suk a spokesman for the Unification Ministry was quoted in the BBC as telling reporters: "It's quite a rare case that the North promptly and publicly announced early this morning the outcome of a meeting yesterday, on 15 July. We will keep monitoring closely."
The New York Times's Choe Sang-hun further speculated that Ri got a favourable exit as far as he was concerned: "The inner workings of political power in North Korea are shrouded in mystery, with top officials often demoted, made to disappear, reinstated or killed in suspicious 'traffic accidents'.
"Ensuring such unpredictability in any general's career has been seen as a crucial method used by the Kim family dynasty to tame generals and party secretaries." ·
In April North Korea launched a rocket, an alleged long-range missile test, which - while failing - broke UN resolutions. International talks regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons program have been strained since 2009.
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