Vietnam Loses Its President—Again

President Vo Van Thuong's exit follows that of former President Nguyen Xuan Phuc
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2024 8:38 AM CDT
Vietnam's Political Shakeup Could Unnerve Investors
Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong resigned after a little over a year in the position, state media VN Express reported. His resignation takes place amid an intense anti-corruption campaign that has hit the highest echelons of the Communist Party.   (Parker Song/Pool Photo via AP, File)

The presidency is a largely ceremonial position in Vietnam, but the resignation of President Vo Van Thuong is still being cast as one that could have unwelcome consequences. He succeeded former President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who quit in January 2023, and as Reuters puts it, "Investors who mostly praise political stability may not take well the premature departure of two presidents in about a year." More on the situation:

  • Why: His exit comes amid "an intense anti-corruption campaign," per the AP. The official line from the government is that Thuong ran afoul of party rules, and that those "shortcomings had negatively impacted public opinion, affecting the reputation of the [ruling Communist] Party, State and him personally."
  • Timing: Vietnamese police announced the arrest of the former head of Central Vietnam's Quang Ngai province for corruption days earlier. He was previously supervised by Thuong, who was the party chief there at the time, and rumors had swirled in recent weeks that Thuong would soon be out. The buzz was amplified by the scheduling of a special session of Vietnam's parliament on Thursday focused on "personnel matters."

  • Context: The president falls third in Vietnam's political hierarchy, with the top slot going to the Communist Party general secretary; Nguyen Phu Trong has held that position since 2011. An analyst at Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute tells the AP that Thuong was seen as a Trong protege, and his exit accentuates the reach of Trong's anti-corruption drive, which he calls his "most important legacy."
  • Implications: From the AP: Analysts call the rapid exit of a second president "a worrying sign for political stability in a country (that) plays a key role in the middle of US-China competition and a growing one in global manufacturing. ... Analysts have warned that the anti-corruption drive has hurt Vietnam's business environment, making foreign investors jittery about unpredictable economic policies."
(More Vietnam stories.)

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