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Viet Nam's change of presidency: in line with the "đốt lò" operation

Viet Nam's former president, Mr Nguyễn Xuân Phúc resigned on January 17, making way for Võ Văn Thưởng, a 52-year-old single candidate. The appointment dating two months ago is one of the most important Vietnamese political events in recent years.

The reasons for Mr Nguyễn Xuân Phúc's resignation have not been officially stated, but it is possible to make assumptions based on recent events in Viet Nam.

A corruption case - Việt Á- shook the Vietnamese political sphere earlier this year. It was revealed that former Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long had approved the purchase of 200,000 falsified COVID-19 tests at a price above the market price, causing significant financial damage to the Vietnamese government. It was also exposed that the former minister had received bribes from the Vietnamese company Biotest, which had supplied the falsified tests.

Mr. Nguyễn Xuân Phúc is therefore blamed for the mismanagement of his government and is politically responsible for the many mistakes made by his 2 vice prime ministers (Vu Duc Dam and Pham Binh Minh), and 3 of his ministers (Nguyen Thanh Long, Chu Ngoc Anh and Mai Tien Dung). Among them, 2 ministers and many officials have been criminally prosecuted. The case involves a total of 539 subordinates in his government. While there are rumours linking the former president's wife, he has denied any theory regarding her direct involvement in the "Việt Á" affair.

This political news has caused a scandal for two reasons: First, because the Vietnamese government prided itself on its effective management of the Covid-19 pandemic, and also because the case calls into question the effectiveness of the fight against corruption in Vietnam.

Indeed, for some years now, the Vietnamese government has been spearheading the fight against corruption, notably through the "đốt lò" - burning furnace - operation. This policy is notably pushed by Nguyễn Phú Trọng, General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party. At the head of the party since 2011, and former president of the Vietnamese national assembly, he is the de facto head of the politburo, making him the most influential man in the country. The project was initiated in 2013 and aims to increase transparency in Vietnamese politics. According to a 2019 figure, more than 650 party members have been sanctioned for corruption through this operation.

Since then, the resignation of Viet Nam's former president and the corruption case that preceded it have shaken the Vietnamese political sphere, putting the spotlight back on the "đốt lò" operation. In his first speech to parliament, Võ Văn Thưởng further expressed his resolve to fight corruption.


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