Hanoi, Vietnam | Sun, January 31, 2021 | 08:46 pm
Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, 76, has been re-elected for a rare third five-year term, state media reported on Sunday, cementing his position as one of the country’s strongest and longest-serving leaders for decades.
Trong, who emerged at the last congress in 2016 on top of a power struggle and has led a “blazing furnace” crackdown on corruption in the last five years, was given an exception from party rules that state people over 65 should retire. The official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) announced, “Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong was elected to be the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, term XIII,”
At a five-year party congress in Hanoi, where 1,600 party delegates from across Vietnam are concluding eight days of meetings, often behind closed doors, Trong’s re-election as party general secretary came to select a new leadership team aimed at improving the ongoing economic success of Vietnam – and the legitimacy of the rule of the party.
Vietnam does not have a supreme ruler and is officially headed by four “pillars”: the most powerful post, the head of its Communist Party; a president; a prime minister; and the chair of the National Assembly. While the rise to the highest levels of Vietnamese politics is regulated by party rules, the highly secretive process in fact is about creating unity and fighting for control of the Politburo decision-making process.
That means that exceptions to the rules can be given, especially if there is no consensus on the top candidates. Trong has built up a power base since taking office in 2011, which saw him emerge on top in a showdown at the last congress in 2016 with former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. His crackdown on corruption, characterized as politically motivated by government critics, has seen scores of high-level officials sentenced to lengthy prison sentences, including one member of the Politburo.