New leaders in Vietnam


By Stephen Robson

The National Assembly of Vietnam in the first week of August elected Vo Van Kiet prime minister. Kiet takes over the position from Do Muoi, elected general secretary of the Communist Party at the Seventh National Congress at the end of June.

Vo Van Kiet is the former deputy prime minister for economic affairs.

Nguyen Manh Cam, the ambassador to the Soviet Union, was appointed foreign minister, replacing Nguyen Co Thach, who retired from his party positions at the congress.

General Doan Khue, the vice-minister for national defence and chief of the Vietnam People's Army becomes the defence minister, replacing Le Duc Anh.

Phan Van Khai, the chair of the State Planning Commission was elected by the 490-member assembly as a deputy prime minister. Khai was one of the new figures in the Political Bureau elected at the Seventh Congress.

Another new member of the Political Bureau, Bui Thien Ngo, has become interior minister.

The congress was attended by almost 1200 delegates representing the more than 2 million party members. Major documents presented to it included a "Political program for National Reconstruction in the Period of Transition to Socialism" and a "Strategy for Socio-economic Stabilisation and Development up to the Year 2000".

Prior to the meeting of the Central Committee in May, as a result of extensive discussions amongst both party and mass organisations, the program was redrafted 10 times.

Referring to the process launched at the Sixth Congress in 1986, Nguyen Van Linh, who retired as general secretary, called it imperative "to continue with the abolition of the mechanism based on bureaucratic centralism and state subsidies, with a shift to market mechanism under state management by means of laws, plans, policies and other instruments".

Discussing socialist democracy, Linh said "whether there is democracy or not does not depend on a single-party or multi-party system ... Recognition of a multi-party system with opposition parties means facilitating the immediate and lawful surfacing of the forces of reaction and revanchism living in the country or returning from abroad to act against our fatherland, our people and

our regime."

Women made up just over 11% of the delegates, with 124 members of ethnic minorities. Over 45% of the delegates were aged under 50.

Seven members of the outgoing Politburo of 12 retired at the congress. The new Politburo was expanded to 13 and includes leaders aged in their 60s.

The Central Committee was also expanded from 129 to 146, bringing in members in their 50s and 60s.

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