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North Korea has announced its ruling Workers Party will hold its first congress in 36 years in May.

The North Korean Workers Party congress, which will take place in Pyongyang from May 6, will be only the seventh in the party’s history and the first under leader Kim Jong-un.

The gathering will be closely watched for signs of major policy shifts, movement among senior officials or comment on North Korea’s nuclear program.

The announcement comes as North Korea is believed to be preparing a fifth nuclear test.

North Korea has often timed its controversial tests to coincide with big political occasions.North Korea jams GPS signals

Its fourth test, in January, was followed by the launch of a satellite.

Both were violations of existing sanctions and resulted in the UN imposing further measures limiting trade and contact with North Korea.

The last North Korean congress was in October 1980, before the current leader Kim Jong-un was born.

The congress lasted four days and among other issues saw Kim Jong-il formally named as the intended successor to then leader Kim Il-sung.

Expectation has been growing for months that the leadership was about to announce the seventh congress.

The statement from North Korea’s KCNA news agency on April 27 gave no details of the event, and did not specify how long it would last.

However, it is widely expected that Kim Jong-un will use the party’s congress to both reinforce his role as Supreme Leader and to push his agenda of economic development coupled with nuclear progress.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on April 26 that North Korea had finished preparations for its fifth nuclear test and could carry it out it any time.

North Korea also claimed last week to have used “cold launch” technology to fire a missile from a submarine, while South Korean officials say it also appears to be preparing another test launch of its medium-range Musudan ballistic missile.

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) is holding its party congress at which members will vote for its next leader.

President Jacob Zuma is being challenged for the top job by his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe.

ANC congress, held every five years, is taking place in Manguang, where the party was formed a century ago.

Correspondents say the party is battling to regain the moral high ground, amid accusations of corruption.

Some 5,000 delegates are eligible to vote at the 53rd National Conference, which will last for five days.

Jacob Zuma will open proceedings with an address to the delegates on the current political landscape in South Africa.

The president is confident he can win a second term, despite media coverage of his personal life and allegations that he misused public funds to renovate his private home.

South Africa's governing African National Congress is holding its party congress at which members will vote for its next leader

South Africa’s governing African National Congress is holding its party congress at which members will vote for its next leader

But Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was nominated by at least three of South Africa’s nine provinces and is hoping for a surprise victory. He only confirmed his candidacy last week.

If Kgalema Motlanthe is appointed, the ANC’s control of parliament means he will almost certainly become South Africa’s next president in elections in 2014.

The results of the leadership contest are expected later this week.

The ANC will use the congress to try to shake off persistent accusations of corruption and infighting.

It is also lagging in delivering meaningful change for millions of poor South Africans, as it promised when it came into power at the end of apartheid in 1994.

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