Vietnam Removes Another Top Leader as Political Blood-Letting Continues

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Vietnam Removes Another Top Leader as Political Blood-Letting Continues

Truong Thi Mai, the permanent member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat, is the third top leader to step down in the past two months.

Vietnam Removes Another Top Leader as Political Blood-Letting Continues
Credit: Depositphotos

Another high-ranking official has stepped down in Vietnam in connection with the country’s wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign, the third top official to fall on the swords in recent weeks.

In a session yesterday, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) accepted the resignation tendered by Truong Thi Mai, the permanent member of the CPV Secretariat and the only woman on the Politburo, according to state media reports.

As with other recent high-level “personnel changes,” the explanation offered for the 66-year-old’s resignation was vague. While Mai had “demonstrated high responsibility and fulfilled her missions well” since taking the post a year ago, she “committed violations” that “negatively affected the reputation of the Party and herself,” according to the state media paraphrase. The “violations” took place between 2016 and 2021.

Mai was replaced by Gen. Luong Cuong, 67, director of the General Department of Politics of the Vietnam People’s Army, a position that he has served since 2016.

Mai is the latest top official to fall victim to an unprecedented political blood-letting connected to the CPV chief Nguyen Phu Trong’s “blazing furnace” anti-corruption campaign. In March, President Vo Van Thuong resigned just over a year after he was appointed to replace another president who stepped down due to the anti-graft campaign. He was followed in April by Vuong Dinh Hue, the chairperson of the National Assembly. Both men resigned for similarly unspecified “violations.”

This has left two of the country’s “four pillars” – its four most powerful political posts – vacant, in addition to the post vacated by Mai, which is widely viewed as the country’s fifth-most important political post. The campaign has also left empty five of the 18 seats on the Politburo, the CPV’s apex decision-making body. With Mai’s resignation, the number of Politburo members has dropped to 12.

The unprecedented degree of change at the upper echelons of the CPV ensures that the leadership that emerges from the next Party Congress, due in early 2026, will bear very little resemblance to the group that was appointed in 2021. As Cuong’s appointment suggests, it will also be a leadership dominated to a much greater degree by the army and the Ministry of Public Security, the main organ tasked with anti-corruption investigations.

As Bill Hayton noted last week when rumors of Mai’s replacement by Cuong began to circulate, “Three of the top five posts in Vietnam [are] now held by generals. Two from the police, one from the military.” That could rise to four if another rumored personnel change – the elevation of Minister of Public Security To Lam to the presidency – eventuates in the coming weeks.

Also yesterday, the Central Committee approved four new Politburo members to fill the vacancies left by recent resignations: Le Minh Hung, head of the Party Organization Commission; Nguyen Trong Nghia, head of the Commission for Information and Education, the CPV’s propaganda chief; Bui Thi Minh Hoai, head of the Party Central Mass Mobilization Commission, a position previously held by Mai; and Do Van Chien, head of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front.

While none of these four are from the security forces, the latter are also strongly represented in the Politburo: half of the 16 current members are from the security apparatus, including five from the Ministry of Public Security and three from the army; five more have an economics background or hold a degree in economics. (It remains unclear when the Party will fill the remaining two Politburo vacancies.)

Before its current session comes to a close tomorrow, the Central Committee will recommend replacements for president and National Assembly chair, which will then move to the National Assembly to receive its rubber stamp.