Vietnamese Parliament to Discuss ‘Personnel Issues’ This Week, Report Says

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Vietnamese Parliament to Discuss ‘Personnel Issues’ This Week, Report Says

The news has added fuel to rumors about the resignation of President Vo Van Thuong, following the cancellation of a visit by the Dutch royal family.

Vietnamese Parliament to Discuss ‘Personnel Issues’ This Week, Report Says
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Vietnam’s National Assembly is scheduled to meet later this week to discuss unspecified “personnel issues,” Reuters reported today, citing a letter sent to legislators that raises the possibility of more upheaval at the upper ranks of the government.

The letter signed by the general secretary of the national assembly Bui Van Cuong and sent to members of the parliament, a copy of which was seen by the news agency, said: “The National Assembly Standing Committee decided to convene the 6th extraordinary session of the 15th National Assembly to consider and decide on personnel issues.”

The report came after the Dutch King and Queen postponed a visit to Vietnam at the request of the Vietnamese government, just five days before it was scheduled to begin.

In a statement on March 14, the Dutch Royal House said that the March 19-22 visit would not go ahead as planned. “The Vietnamese authorities have requested that the state visit of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty Queen Máxima to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam be postponed due to domestic circumstances,” the statement said.

The postponement of the visit caught the eye of Vietnam watchers, prompting speculation about the pending resignation of the country’s president, Vo Van Thuong, who was scheduled to host the Dutch royal couple. Indeed, a similar extraordinary session in January 2023 announced the resignation of then President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, for his involvement in a graft scandal linked to the country’s COVID-19 response.

In its report today, Reuters appeared to add weight to the rumors of a pending major leadership change, quoting “multiple Vietnamese officials and diplomats” as saying that Vo Van Thuong’s resignation “may be one of the personnel matters the parliament will discuss.”

Thuong was appointed as Phuc’s interim replacement upon his resignation in January of last year, and was confirmed in the position in March. At 53 years of age, Thuong is currently the youngest member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the country’s highest decision-making body. Why Thuong’s job might be in jeopardy remains unclear. The obvious answer is that he, too, has been consumed by the flames of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign, nicknamed “blazing furnace,” which has burned hotly since CPV chief Nguyen Phu Trong rose to the top job in 2016.

At the same time, Thuong is believed to be a close ally of the CPV general secretary. Carl Thayer of the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, a leading authority on Vietnamese politics, described him as “a dyed-in-the-wool party apparatchik and trusted member of Secretary General Trong’s inner circle.” Indeed, some observers had even considered that Thuong might have been intended as the eventual replacement for the 79-year-old Trong, who has been in ill-health for some time, an issue that has prompted its own rash of speculation.

For Trong to choose Thuong to fill a post that was vacated due to a corruption-related resignation, and not conduct his own diligence in this respect, seems unlikely. However, given that Vietnam’s anti-corruption campaign continues to find new and outrageous instances of fraud and high-level graft, it is not a possibility that can be dismissed out of hand.