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World

Vietnamese president resigns as Communist Party steps up crackdown on corruption

  • The president is the most high-profile victim of the corruption crackdown
  • Phuc blamed for conduct of officials under him
  • Hundreds of Civil Servants Hit by ‘Fiery Furnace’ Campaign
  • The widely expected downfall of Phuc

HANOI, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc has resigned after the ruling Communist Party accused him of “violations and wrongdoing” by officials under its control, the government said on Tuesday. in a major escalation of the country’s anti-corruption fight. countryside.

Phuc, a former prime minister widely credited with accelerating business-friendly reforms, has served as largely ceremonial president since 2021 and is the most senior official targeted by the party’s sweeping corruption crackdown.

Vietnam has no supreme leader and is officially ruled by four “pillars”: the party secretary, the president, the prime minister and the speaker of the house.

Phuc, 68, was ultimately responsible for offenses committed by multiple officials, including two deputy prime ministers and three ministers, the government said.

“Fully aware of his responsibilities to the party and the people, he has submitted a request to resign from his posts, resign and retire,” he said in a statement.

Phuc’s office could not immediately be reached for comment and it was unclear if a replacement had been chosen.

Vietnam is plagued by speculation that he will be removed from office following the January sacking of two deputy prime ministers who served under him, as the party steps up efforts in an anti-corruption campaign “fiery furnace” led by its longtime powerful leader, Nguyen Phu Trong.

Last year, 539 party members were prosecuted or “disciplined” for corruption and “deliberate wrongdoing”, including ministers, senior officials and diplomats, according to the party, while police investigated 453 cases of corruption, up 50% from 2021.

Earlier this month, Trong said the party was “more determined” and “more efficient and methodical” in its approach, and committed to delivering results.

UNCERTAIN IMPACT

Opinions vary on the impact of the anti-corruption campaign on investment and politics.

The Hong Hiep of the Vietnam Studies program at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore said the purge could pave the way for cleaner and more capable leaders to emerge.

“As long as the leadership reshuffles do not lead to sweeping political changes, their impact on the economy will also be limited,” Hiep said on his Facebook account.

However, Ha Hoang Hop, a senior visiting fellow at the same institute, said Phuc’s disappearance and uncertainty about the impact of the crackdown could unsettle investors.

“It could lead Vietnam to a period of instability that would worry friends and foreign investors,” he said.

Phuc’s resignation requires the approval of the legislature, which sources said on Monday would hold a rare special meeting this week, adding to the expectation that Phuc’s fate had been sealed.

Phuc, who was known in Vietnam for his friendly approach and his love for the national football team, has already been tipped as the future party general secretary, the most prestigious post in the state.

As prime minister from 2016 to 2021, he oversaw an average annual economic growth of 6% for Asia’s booming manufacturing powerhouse and helped pursue a liberalization drive that included trade deals with the European Union. and the Pacific powers.

Despite its fall, the government on Tuesday hailed its achievements, particularly its response to the pandemic.

“He has made great efforts to lead, direct and administer the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic, achieving significant results,” he added.

Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Martin Petty

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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