Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party named its party leader on Wednesday to serve both in that role and as the country’s new president, subject to approval by Vietnam’s National Assembly later this month or in November, media sources say.
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong replaces former president Tran Dai Quang who died last month, and if approved would be the first to hold both top posts at the same time since Communist Party founder Ho Chi Minh led Vietnam in the 1960s.
Trong, 74, is seen as a political hard-liner who has cracked down on corrupt bankers and other officials, and who had joined with former President Quang in jailing scores of political dissidents in recent years.
Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Wednesday, Nguyen Dinh Cong, a political observer based in Hanoi, called the process by which Trong was nominated by his party to serve as president with the approval of a rubber-stamp parliament an example of “phony democracy.”
The Vietnamese people should first be allowed to vote on candidates for the job, Cong said.
“Trong should have been included in a group of other candidates, maybe two or three put forward in a transparent election,” Cong said.
“Then, if the people saw that Trong is capable, they would have trust in him, and he would get the position. But the most important point is that the people would have voted first,” he said.
While noting both positive and negative aspects to Trong’s holding both jobs in government, Cong said that Trong’s political views are what will matter most.
“His conservative views are very strong,” Cong said.
Also speaking to RFA, former Vietnamese ambassador to the Netherlands Dinh Hoang Thang said that Vietnam’s political culture still lacks two important components: the rule of law, and respect for civil society.
“On overseas trips, Vietnamese leaders ask host countries’ counterparts to recognize Vietnam as a free-market economy, while back home, they tell the Vietnamese people that they have a socialist economy,” said Thang.
“A free market, a rules-based state, and civil society are the three-part model for truly democratic and progressive countries,” Thang said.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Richard Finney.