China's tumultuous, bizarre year in politics appears headed for a home stretch, with leading members of the ruling Communist Party convening to finalise a list of new leaders and decide the fate of a disgraced colleague.
A highly anticipated meeting of the decision-making Politburo will is expected to take place as early as Friday, party-connected academics and analysts said. State media have announced November 8 as the start of the party congress, a pivotal event to install the new leadership.
The congress is normally held once every five years in mid-October. The dates of three congresses were all announced in late August.
The delay is yet another sign of disarray over a power transition that has become fractious despite party leaders' attempts to display public unity.
"Is it unprecedented? No. Is it unusual? Yes," former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage said of the delay.
"It just introduces questions among people who are watching China and wondering what's going on," Armitage said at an academic forum this week.
While the party does not publicly announce Politburo meetings, foreign diplomats and party members in state media say they have been informed verbally of its convening.