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Vietnam President Steps Down After a Year in Office, Fueling Fears Over Country’s Stability

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Vietnam President Steps Down After a Year in Office, Fueling Fears Over Country’s Stability

Vietnam President Steps Down After a Year in Office, Fueling Fears Over Country’s Stability

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President Vo Van Thuong of Vietnam has resigned from his post after serving the country for a year. According to reports, Thuong’s resignation follows his being swept up in an ongoing anti-corruption campaign led by the country’s communist party.
Thuong is the second president in two years to have resigned, leaving some analysts worried about the country’s political stability.

About the Vietnamese Communist Party

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Vietnam has a unitary government, which means it is a one-party state, and the ruling party controls the government and society.
The ruling party, in this case, is the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), and has ruled the country for decades. It maintains control by heavily restricting the ability of candidates outside the party to run in elections.

Resignation Approval

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The Central Party Committee is the top decision-making entity in the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Last Wednesday, the committee accepted Thuong’s resignation, pointing out that he had violated party rules.
The government said that Thuong’s “shortcomings had negatively impacted public opinion, affecting the reputation of the Party, State and him personally.”

The Anti-Corruption Campaign

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Thuong’s resignation is happening in the midst of an anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by the CPV. The country’s previous president, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, resigned in 2023 to take “political responsibility” for corruption scandals that occurred during the pandemic.
Thuong took over from Phuc, making him the youngest president since the modern state of Vietnam exited the war in the 1970s. He was 54 years old at the time.

His Violations Are Unknown

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Even though he has resigned, the accusations against Thuong that forced his resignation remain unknown. However, an arrest occurred days before the head of Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province resigned.
The province had allegedly participated in a forgery that was discovered in a real estate firm investigation. Unfortunately, Thuong is the party chief in this province.

Speculations Regarding the CPV

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Some speculate that the anti-corruption drive in Vietnam is one way the government solidifies its control over political opposition. The campaign has been a major interest of Nguyen Phu Trong, the CPV general secretary, who holds the most powerful political position in the country.
According to Analyst Nygun Kach Gian from the Ishak Institute, the anti-corruption drive is Trong’s “most important legacy.”

The President’s Role

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Some see the president in Vietnam to be more of a figurehead than one with major political power. The president and other high-level government positions are elected from a National Assembly. Members of the National Assembly are elected by the voters of Vietnam and serve five-year terms.
Comparing this to the United States, it would be like allowing the US Congress to choose the president from a vote amongst themselves.

Explaining the National Assembly

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In the last National Assembly Election, the Communist Party of Vietnam won 486 out of the 500 seats. The remaining 14 seats were won by independent candidates, but they still had some affiliation with the Vietnamese Communist Party.
The National Assembly is Vietnam’s only branch of government, and it essentially controls every other government organ in the country.

Censorship and Vietnam

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Human rights organizations like Amnesty International have long been vocal about Vietnam’s actions, which they interpret as a crackdown on citizens who criticize the country’s communist party online.
In 2021, authorities arrested citizens ahead of the National Assembly election because they applied to be independent candidates. Some of these independent candidate hopefuls had popular social media accounts critical of the government.

How Article 117 Was Used

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Activists say authorities in Vietnam used Article 117 in 2021 to arrest voices in the country critical of the ruling CPV.
Vietnamese law makes “distributing propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” illegal. Critics of Article 117 believe that the law is overly broad and intentionally vague, allowing government authorities to abuse it to silence any criticism of the government, propaganda or not.

Investors Are Wary of the Campaign

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Foreign investors and businessmen are not happy about the anti-corruption campaign in Vietnam because it is causing a dramatic slowdown of political decision-making in the country. These investors think the constant removal of government officials further hobbles the already slow bureaucracy in Vietnam.
Vietnam’s economy has already shown signs of slowing as its exports have declined.

Vietnam’s Goals

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The difficulty the anti-corruption campaign has put on business in the country seems to contradict Vietnam’s past goals. The country has been a business hub and political middle ground between China and the United States. In the past, Vietnam positioned itself as an easy place for businesses to establish supply chains outside of neighboring China.
In 2023, Vietnam became the only country to meet with both American President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping in official state visits.