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Kim's son takes control of military

North Korea said that Kim Jong Un has been officially named Supreme Commander of the military, further strengthening his authority after the death of his father.

Officials and state media have bestowed a string of titles on Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s, as the state's elite rally around him after Kim Jong Il's death earlier this month following 17 years in power.

But the title Supreme Commander - and its formal proclamation by the powerful Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party - is a clear sign that Kim Jong Un is fast consolidating power over North Korea. It is also the latest step in a burgeoning personality cult around him.

Kim Jong Un's age and inexperience have raised questions outside North Korea about his leadership of a nation engaged in delicate negotiations over its nuclear programme and grappling with decades of economic hardship and chronic food shortages.

But the North has moved quickly to show the world a unified face.

"This is a historic event reflecting the unanimous will of the service persons and the people to defend the dignity of the country," the official Korean Central News Agency said.

It said Kim Jong Un's new title "provides sure guarantee for glorifying the great exploits performed by Kim Jong Il for army building and carrying forward the cause of the songun (military-first) revolution generation after generation".

The party said the country should unite around Kim Jong Un and strengthen "the monolithic leadership system of the dear respected Comrade Kim Jong Un throughout the party and society".

An unannounced Workers' Party meeting yesterday proclaimed that the younger Kim "assumed supreme commandership of the Korean People's Army" according to a will made by Kim Jong Il on October 8, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a statement.

The meeting of the North's ruling party came one day after the official mourning period for Kim Jong Il ended and senior military and political officials publicly declared Kim Jong Un leader of the party, military and people at a massive memorial for his father.

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