Vietnam appoints new president as anti-corruption crackdown rocks top leadership

Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam’s National Assembly on Thursday appointed Vo Van Thuong as the country’s new president, in a reshuffle of the country’s top leadership amid a sweeping anti-graft campaign.

In an extraordinary session, lawmakers chose Thuong, 52, after the ruling Communist Party named him president on Wednesday, a largely ceremonial role but one of the four most important political positions in the Southeast Asian nation.

According to Parliament’s online portal, he was elected with 98.38% of the vote.

Thuong’s confirmation as president of the one-party state follows the sudden resignation in January of his predecessor Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who the party blamed for “violations and misconduct” by officials under his control, in what was seen as a major escalation of the country’s anti-corruption crackdown.” blazing furnace”.

In his first speech to parliament as president, Thuong said he would “resolutely” continue the fight against corruption.

“I will be absolutely loyal to the motherland, the people and the constitution, and strive to carry out the tasks assigned by the party, the state and the people,” Thuong said in a statement aired on state television.

Thuong is the youngest member of the party’s Politburo, the country’s top decision-making body, and is considered a party veteran who began his political career at university in communist youth organizations.

He is widely considered to be close to Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s most powerful figure and the main architect of the party’s fight against corruption.

“The kiln campaign will not cool down any time soon,” said Florian Feyerabend, the representative of Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think tank, in Vietnam.

Diplomats and businesspeople have raised concerns about the anti-graft campaign because it has paralyzed many routine transactions in Vietnam, as officials fear being implicated.

A Hanoi-based diplomat said Thuong’s election was an important step by Secretary-General Trong as he fought to succeed him, as the 78-year-old leader may step down before the end of his third term in 2026.

The general secretary is usually chosen from among the top leaders.

Analysts and investors viewed the election as a sign of continuity in the country’s foreign and economic policy.

“There will be no major changes in Vietnam’s foreign policy after Thuong’s election,” said Le Hong Hiep, senior fellow and Vietnam expert at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

A Vietnam-based foreign investor, who asked not to be named, said the elections put an end to insecurity caused by the former president’s sudden sacking.

“That means stability and predictability are restored,” he said.

Vietnam is a major recipient of foreign investment, with business leaders often citing its political stability as a key reason for investment.

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