HANOI (Reuters): Vietnam's Communist Party has nominated Vo Van Thuong (pic) as the country's new president, two party sources said on Wednesday (March 1), following the sudden forced resignation in January of his predecessor as part of a sweeping anti-corruption campaign.
Thuong, 52, is the youngest member of the party's Politburo, the country's top decision-making body, and is widely regarded as being close to General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam's most powerful figure.
Trong is the main architect of the party's "blazing furnace" crackdown on graft, under which hundreds of officials have been investigated and many forced to quit, including former president Nguyen Xuan Phuc and two deputy prime ministers.
Thuong's nomination by the party's Central Committee upholds an earlier decision by the Politburo, and will need approval by the rubber-stamp National Assembly, which is due to hold an extraordinary session on Thursday and a formal sitting in May.
Both the government and Communist Party said on Wednesday the party's Central Committee had agreed on a nomination for president, without naming the candidate.
The president in Vietnam holds a largely ceremonial role, but is among the top four political figures in the country, together with the party's general secretary, the prime minister and the head of the national assembly.
A former head of propaganda, "Thuong is a dyed in the wool party apparatchik and a trusted member of Secretary General Trong's inner circle," said Carl Thayer, an expert in Vietnam's politics at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.
He is currently one of the 16 members of the Politburo and holds the post of secretary of the party's Central Committee, one of the highest-ranking positions in the country.
Speaking at a party meeting last month, Thuong said: "The people's lawful and legitimate interests must be the important starting point of all the Party's guidelines and policies".
Hanoi-based diplomats told Reuters they saw the party's decision to name Thuong as president as an attempt to advance a new generation of leaders and consolidate power in the event the 78-year-old general secretary Trong decides to step down before the end of his third term in 2026.
The general secretary is often chosen from among one of the top leaders and Trong, who was reappointed for a third term in 2021, "is ensuring he has an acceptable successor in the mix," one diplomat said.