Vietnam PM Dung withdraws from leadership race – source

Agence France-Presse

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Vietnam PM Dung withdraws from leadership race – source

AFP

Some 1,500 delegates at the five-yearly Communist Party congress finalize a list of candidates from which the country's new leadership will be chosen

HANOI, Vietnam – Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is no longer in the running to be Vietnam’s next top leader, a source said on Monday, January 25, ending weeks of factional fighting over a crucial political transition.

Some 1,500 delegates at the five-yearly Communist Party congress worked late into the night Monday in closed-door talks, finalizing a list of candidates from which the country’s new leadership will be chosen.

“Dung is not on the list,” a government source told AFP late Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The country’s top three positions – party general secretary, president and prime minister – are up for grabs at the weeklong meeting, which ends Thursday, January 28.

Normally, a deal is agreed months in advance. Analysts say the delay this year highlights a struggle between the party’s traditional old guard and a more modern breed of politician, embodied by Prime Minister Dung.

Dung, 66, has served two terms as Prime Minister and had been tipped by analysts to ascend to the powerful party leader position.

But the incumbent Nguyen Phu Trong, seen as more a conservative apparatchik and closer to Beijing, had been maneuvering to stay on.

The final official announcement will be made later this week.

The party congress has “accepted the withdrawal (of) Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung” from the nominations, the Thanh Nien newspaper reported late Monday.

This means he can no longer become party general secretary, and will likely retire from politics, experts said.

President Truong Tan Sang and national Assembly chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung also withdrew from the running, the Thanh Nien report said.

Dung’s political future had been in doubt for weeks, but many analysts had guessed he would make a fresh bid for the party leader position during internal elections this week, which happen behind closed doors.

Although neither Dung nor Trong will dramatically change course on key issues such as a dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea, Dung was generally seen by analysts as more pro-market and reformist.

A Hanoi-based diplomat had previously warned a win for Trong’s faction could skewer badly needed economic reforms by bumping competent and less dogmatic politicians to the sidelines.

With a youthful population of some 90 million in need of jobs – and an economy growing at 7 percent a year – this could be the difference between cashing in on tremendous potential or “muddling through” for another five years, the diplomat said. – Rappler.com  

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