Vietnam’s parliament elects Vo Van Thuong as the new state president

  • New president elected after sudden resignation of predecessor
  • Thuong is seen as close to Communist Party leader Trong
  • Thuong said he will continue the anti-graft crackdown

HANOI, March 2 (Reuters) – Vietnam’s National Assembly elected Vo Van Thuong as the country’s new president on Thursday, in a reshuffle of the country’s top leadership amid a sweeping anti-graft campaign.

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

Thuong’s election follows the sudden dismissal in January of his predecessor Nguyen Xuan Phuc, whom the party blamed for “violations and wrongdoing” by officials under his control, in what was seen as a major escalation of the country’s “burning furnace” anti-corruption crackdown. .

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

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“I will be absolutely loyal to the fatherland, the people and the constitution, and strive to fulfill the tasks assigned by the party, the state and the people,” Thuong said in a statement broadcast on Vietnam’s state television.

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

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

“The fiery furnace campaign will not cool down in the foreseeable future,” said Florian Feyerabend, the representative in Vietnam of Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think tank.

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

“Predictability Restored”

A Hanoi-based diplomat said Thuong’s selection was a big step by Secretary-General Trong amid jockeying to succeed him, given that the 78-year-old leader may step down before the end of his third term in 2026.

The general secretary is usually chosen from one of the senior leaders.

Thuong was elected with 98.38% of the vote, according to the parliament’s online portal.

Analysts and investors saw the election as an indication of continuity in the country’s foreign and economic policies.

“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 Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

A Vietnam-based foreign investor, who declined to be named, said the election put an end to uncertainty caused by the sudden dismissal of the former president.

“It means that stability and predictability have been restored,” he said.

Vietnam is a major recipient of foreign investment, with business leaders often citing the country’s political stability as a key reason for investing.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen, Editing by Ed Davies, Kanupriya Kapoor

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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