Vietnam lawmakers approve President Vo Van Thuong’s resignation

Politburo appoints Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan as acting president for the second time.
By Mike Firn for RFA
2024.03.20
Bangkok, Thailand
Vietnam lawmakers approve President Vo Van Thuong’s resignation Vietnam’s President Vo Van Thuong speaks during a joint press conference with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (not pictured) at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan on Nov. 27, 2023.
Reuters

Updated March 20, 2024, 11:40 p.m. ET.

Vietnam’s National Assembly approved the resignation of President Vo Van Thuong Thursday, state-controlled media reported.

The decision, at a closed door extraordinary session of the rubber stamp legislature, came a day after the 54-year-old was relieved of his position “per his personal request,” by the Communist Party Central Committee.

Thuong was in the job for just over a year, stepping down to take responsibility for a corruption scandal involving regional government officials.

The move comes as no surprise, as it had been widely rumored on social media after the government said Thursday's meeting would address  “personnel issues.”

Thuong will also leave the Politburo, Party Central Committee and quit his position as president of the defense and security council.

A statement from the Central Committee said Thuong had violated Party regulations.

“Vo Van Thuong's violations and flaws have negatively affected public perception, as well as the reputation of the Party and the state,” the statement read. 

“Being aware of his responsibilities before the Party, the state and the people, Thuong has sent in his resignation from his positions.”

Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said Thuong was forced to resign for his failure to exercise proper supervision over officials in Quang Ngai province during his tenure as provincial party secretary from 2011-2014.

“Thuong signed off on a decision to award the Phuc Son Group responsibility to develop the Tra Phuc South Bank River Road Project,” he explained.

“On 8 March this year, the Ministry of Public Security, after an investigation, arrested and detained provincial officials from Quang Ngai province for receiving bribes during Thuong’s tenure as provincial party secretary.”

Thuong became president on March 2, 2023, following the resignation of Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who quit to take responsibility for COVID scandals on his watch.

Thuong had previously been identified as a potential general secretary, according to Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington.

“He’s a young face, the youngest member of the Politburo, just 53 years old,” he said. “For a party that is increasingly seen as out of touch with the public, he’s a guy that had a younger, fresher face. 

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Vietnam's Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan looks on during a visit by Denmark's Prince Frederik and Princess Mary at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on November 1, 2022. She has been appointed acting president for a second time following the resignation of Vo Van Thuong. (AFP)

On Thursday, the Politburo appointed Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan as acting president until the National Assembly elects a new president.

This is her second time in the role, which she also held for a month last year after Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s resignation.

There are two likely contenders for the presidency, according to Thayer: Minister of Public Security To Lam and Permanent Member of the Secretariat Truong Thi Mai.

The president’s role is one of the top four political positions in Vietnam.

Edited by Elaine Chan and Taejun Kang.

Updated to include National Assembly approval of Thuong's resignation.

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