Vietnam picks new PM and president for next 5 years

Photo: AP Pham Minh Chinh, a member of the Communist party's central committee for personnel and organization, enters the hall of the National Assembly in Hanoi, Vietnam on 24 March 2021.

Vietnam's parliament on Monday elected Pham Minh Chinh, head of the Communist Party's Central Organization Committee, as prime minister, replacing Nguyen Xuan Phuc who will take on the largely ceremonial post of president.

The new leadership will try to keep the economy of the communist nation growing solidly - a rarity during the pandemic - and is expected to remain in power for the next five years.

"The Prime Minister clearly recognizes his responsibility in inheriting and promoting the achievements [of the previous government]," Chinh, 62, said in his first speech after he was elected prime minister. He also vowed to resolutely and firmly defend the country's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Tensions between Vietnam and China have been growing in the South China Sea.

Phuc was also elected as the president earlier Monday. Chinh is set to form a new cabinet after assuming his post.

On 7 and 8 April, the National Assembly will dissolve the current government and approve the appointment of some members of the new government, according to local news platform Vnexpress. The current government has 26 members, including four deputy prime ministers and 21 ministers and heads of branches.

During the 13th National Party Congress held in Hanoi from 25 January to 1 February, the party reelected Nguyen Phu Trong, 76, as general secretary, the nation's top job, for an unprecedented third term. Chinh, a native of the northern province of Thanh Hoa, has mainly served public security positions and was elected to the 18-member Politburo -- the country's highest-ranking party -- in the 12th National Party Congress held in 2016.

Chinh's promotion is in line with Hanoi's recent moves to muzzle the press and closely monitor social media in response to heightened tensions in Asia, including Hong Kong, Thailand, and Myanmar, local analysts said. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Trong Nghia, who oversaw the 10,000-member army cyber unit that monitors political comment on social media, has been appointed as head of the Commission for Propaganda and Education of the Central Committee.

In his speech, Chinh vowed to maintain Hanoi's anti-corruption push, a key Trong initiative during his past two terms. The government will "proactively prevent, resolutely and persistently step up the fight against corruption, waste, bureaucracy and negativity with stronger, stricter and more effective mechanisms and solutions," the new prime minister said.

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