Former prime minister sworn in as president

New era: Phuc taking the oath during the National Assembly’s spring session in Hanoi. — AFP

The man behind Vietnam’s successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, has been formally sworn in as president in Hanoi.

Phuc, 66, was Vietnam’s prime minister for the last five years, a period in which the economy boomed, and his government’s Covid-19 response won plaudits at home and abroad.

Following secret voting yesterday, Phuc scored the maximum votes among the almost 500-member rubber-stamp national assembly.

Authoritarian Vietnam is run by the Communist Party and officially led by the party general secretary, president, and prime minister, with key decisions made by the 18-member politburo.

Vietnam is in the midst of its twice-a-decade leadership transition, with 76-year-old Nguyen Phu Trong re-elected in January as party general secretary, the most important of the three roles.

Phuc was the only candidate nominated for president, as Trong – who had held the presidency since 2018 after the sudden death of his predecessor – stepped down.

The National Assembly said earlier this was “the first time ever a prime minister was nominated to the position of the president”.

Pham Minh Chinh, 62, a former deputy minister of public security who is known for the reforms he carried out while party chief of Quang Ninh province, was sworn in as prime minister yesterday. — AFP

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