Despite health problems, the 76-year-old president is set to be re-elected party leader for a rare third term.
Nguyen Phu Trong, leader of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party and architect of the country’s anti-corruption campaign, has been appointed for a rare third term, a Party official said on Wednesday, according to state media.
On Monday, more than 1,600 party delegates began nine days of meetings, most of them behind closed doors, at a convention held every five years.
The meetings will select a new leadership team, aimed at strengthening Vietnam’s current economic success – and the legitimacy of Party power.
Trong, 76, who is also president of Vietnam, had been widely tipped to continue as party leader despite health concerns and advanced age – which should technically disqualify him for the post, although with exceptions’ cases. individuals ”are granted.
“According to the Party Charter, re-elected Central Committee members must not be over 60 and re-elected Politburo members must be under 65,” delegate Hau A Lenh told the state newspaper Tien Phong.
“The secretary general and president is one of the major candidates and a special case,” Lenh told Tien Phong.
Vietnam does not have a supreme leader and is officially ruled by four “pillars”: the leader of its Communist Party, a President, a Prime Minister and the Speaker of the National Assembly.
While the ascent to the highest levels of Vietnamese politics is governed by party rules, in reality the top-secret process revolves around consensus building and the struggle for control of the powerful decision-making Politburo.
This means that exceptions to the rules are often granted – especially if consensus on the best candidates cannot be reached.
Since coming to power in 2011, Trong has become one of Vietnam’s most powerful figures for decades. He emerged at the top in a power struggle against the former prime minister at the last congress in 2016 and two years later appointed president following the death of his predecessor, Tran Dai Quang.
Her “fiery” crackdown on corruption, as she has been officially dubbed, has seen dozens of senior officials – including a member of the political bureau – sentenced to long prison terms.
Critics of the government described the crackdown as politically motivated.
On Tuesday, Trong hailed the country’s booming economic development as well as its containment of the COVID-19 pandemic as major achievements.
“Our country has developed rapidly and sustainably, consolidating people’s confidence in the Party, the state and the socialist regime,” said Trong, reflecting on the Party’s record since 2016.
“The quality of growth has improved, the economy has been stable, inflation has been brought under control,” he added.
One of the last five countries under communist rule in the world after China, Cuba, Laos and North Korea, Vietnam is already forecasting average annual gross domestic product growth of 7.0% over the next five years.
Vietnam’s economy grew 2.9% last year even as other countries in the region suffered from the pandemic, but Trong acknowledged the issues that needed to be addressed for future prosperity.
“Our country is still facing several difficulties, challenges and gaps,” said Trong, looking to the next five years and beyond.