London, June 7 (ANI):The death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's trusted political ally in a car crash has exposed the internal stife in the ruling regime against the backdrop of Kim's plans to name a successor in Pyongyang.
The death of 80-year-old Ri couldn't have been more ill-timed as it precedes the reclusive Kim's anticipated formal announcement coronating his greenhorn son 27-year-old Kim Jong-Un at the second session of the Supreme People's Assembly.
Moreover, the critical timing of the death has sparked off speculation of there being more to it than meets the eye, including the possibility of it being a ploy to derail the already unstable regime.
"Ri Je-Gang was a very strong supporter of Kim Jong-un and there has been a power struggle in Pyongyang between the factions," The Telegraph quoted Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of international relations at Tokyo's Waseda University, as saying.
The death is also going to have tipped the scales of power in the military's favour as far as the question of succession goes with North Korean Army General O Kuk-Ryol emerging as a possible contender, Toshimitsu added.
Ri was one of Kim Jong-un's two most important promoters - the other being Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law Jang Song-taek - and his death so soon after the death of another top official and the dismissal of a third has led to speculation that Ri was the victim of a political assassination, the paper said.
However, all conjecture apar, the accident may as well have been a result of an alcohol-imbued drive back from a late-night policy meeting at Kim's home as the leader is known to send for officials at a short-notice.
North Korea has already been facing rough weather after South Korea accused it of torpedoing its warship prising open old wounds in the Korean Peninsula. (ANI)