Hanoi, Viet Nam
Vietnam’s National Assembly on Thursday named Vo Van Thuong as the country’s new president, in a reshuffle of the country’s top amid a sweeping anti-graft campaign.
In an extraordinary session, lawmakers elected Thuong, 52, after the ruling Communist Party nominated him for president on Wednesday, a largely ceremonial role but one of the top four political positions in the Southeast Asian nation.
He was elected with 98.38% of the vote, according to the parliament’s online portal.
Thuong’s confirmation as president of the one-party state follows the sudden resignation in January of his predecessor Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who blamed the party for “violations and wrongdoings” by officials under his control, in what was seen as a major government escalation of the country. “Blazing Furnace” anti-corruption crackdown.
In his first speech to parliament as president, Thuong said he will “resolutely” continue the fight against corruption.
“I will be absolutely loyal to the fatherland, the people and the constitution, and strive to fulfill the duties assigned by the party, the state and the people,” Thuong said in a statement on state television.
Thuong is the youngest member of the party’s Politburo, the country’s highest decision-making body, and is considered a veteran of the party who began his political career at university in communist youth organizations.
He is widely regarded as a close friend of 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 is not going to cool down for the foreseeable future,” said Florian Feyerabend, the representative in Vietnam for Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think tank.
Diplomats and businessmen have expressed concern over the anti-turnover campaign as it has paralyzed many routine transactions in Vietnam as officials fear being caught up in the crackdown.
A Hanoi-based diplomat said Thuong’s election was a big move by Secretary-General Trong as he sought 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 selected from one of the top leaders.
Analysts and investors viewed 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, a senior fellow and Vietnam expert at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
A Vietnam-based foreign investor, who declined to be named, said the election ended the uncertainty caused by the former president’s sudden resignation.
“It means stability and predictability has been restored,” he said.
Vietnam is a major recipient of foreign investment, and business leaders often cite political stability as a major reason to invest.