Vietnam parliament chief quits amid deepening political turbulence

By Thomson Reuters Apr 26, 2024 | 7:31 AM

By Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen

HANOI (Reuters) – The chairman of Vietnam’s parliament Vuong Dinh Hue resigned over unspecified “violations and shortcomings”, the ruling Communist Party said on Friday, a new sign of political turbulence weeks after the dismissal of the country’s president.

The latest change among Vietnam’s top leadership amid a widespread campaign against corruption could raise new concerns about political stability in the Southeast Asian manufacturing hub, which is highly reliant on foreign investment and trade.

Hue, 67, had been touted as a possible candidate for the Communist Party secretary position, Vietnam’s most powerful job. His position as head of the assembly was one of four posts described as “pillars” of the state leadership.

“Comrade Vuong Dinh Hue’s violations and shortcomings have caused negative public opinion, affecting the reputation of the party, state and him personally,” the Communist Party’s Central Committee said in a statement.

Hue’s resignation came just days after the announcement that his assistant had been arrested over alleged bribery involving an infrastructure company.

It also came less than three weeks after Hue met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, timing viewed as notable by diplomats given the sensitivity in Vietnam of relations with its huge neighbour.

The party statement on Friday said Hue’s resignation had been accepted and he would be removed from the Central Committee and the powerful Politburo.

No announcement was made about a replacement. The party also needs to find a permanent successor to the president. The appointments are expected to be approved by the parliament, either when it meets in mid-May for a regular session or earlier at an extraordinary sitting.

The major reshuffle is seen by diplomats, officials and commentators as part of the campaign to succeed ageing Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong, whose third mandate ends in 2026 unless he quits earlier.

A key contender for the top job is the general in charge of the public security ministry, To Lam, 66, who has also been a central figure in the country’s anti-corruption drive.


Under the years-long anti-graft campaign, called “blazing furnace”, hundreds of senior state officials and high-profile business executives have been prosecuted or forced to step down.

The departure of Hue, a trained economist and former deputy prime minister who previously served as chief state auditor, follows the dismissal in March of President Vo Van Thuong after the Communist Party said he had violated party rules.

Thuong was the second president to exit in just over a year, prompting multiple commentators to warn that the country’s appeal as an investment destination may be affected by prolonged infighting.

A survey of over 650 business leaders conducted by foreign chambers of commerce in Vietnam and published in March said foreign firms were attracted to the country mostly for its political stability.

Earlier in April, real estate tycoon Truong My Lan was sentenced to death for her role in a multi-billion-dollar financial fraud, which caused a run on the deposits of a top private bank that forced the central bank to mount an unprecedented $24-billion rescue.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu, Francesco Guarascio and Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Martin Petty and Peter Graff)