Vietnam Congress confirms new leadership trio

Sec General Nguyen Phu Trong (C), 66, poses with re-elected Politburo member and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (L) and re-elected Politburo member Truong Tan Sang (R) 19 Jan 2011 Vietnam confirms its new ruling trio, led by PM Nguyen Tan Dung (on left)

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The Communist Party of Vietnam has reappointed Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for another term in the Politburo at its five-yearly Congress.

The men expected to be the new party general secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, and president, Truong Tan Sang, were also appointed.

More military representatives have joined the powerful central committee.

Analysts said this suggested the armed forces were more important as neighbouring China's strength grows.

The new Communist Party boss, Mr Trong, 66, replaced Nong Duc Manh who is retiring after 10 years in the post.

Mr Sang, long a rival of the prime minister, takes the more ceremonial post of president, and a seat in the Politburo.

The changes appear to consolidate the prime minister's power for a second term; they were widely expected and agreed unanimously.

A classified cable by the former US ambassador to Vietnam, released by the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, described both Mr Dung and Mr Sang as "known commodities: pragmatic, market-oriented and in favour of steady, incremental advances in Vietnam's relationship with the United States".

Unanimous

The BBC's Asia correspondent, Alastair Leithead, reporting from Hanoi, says that every senior comrade raised their small red cards in unison, voting in favour of Vietnam's new five-year plan and the Communist Party's new leadership.

There were few surprises in personnel as the marching band played and the new members of the enlarged Central Committee members stood under a giant golden statue of founding father Ho Chi Minh to take their welcoming applause.

Our correspondent says the country's market-led policies are guaranteed, even if the economy is facing some big challenges with a wobble in confidence amid growing inflation.

The new general secretary, Mr Trong, promised that tackling the economy was a high priority.

Another Politburo member said that tackling the trade deficit and fighting corruption were important to guarantee the country's progress.

But while the Central Committee has been expanded, the Politburo has been trimmed back.

It has a lot of new blood, with the removal of the foreign minister - the only real surprise after more than a week of heated debates, discussions and disagreements behind closed doors.

The party urged greater democracy, albeit firmly within its single-party limits.

Any outspoken political opponents are still not tolerated, our correspondent says.

"This is not a system that goes for the jugular, and you throw one side out and keep the other in," said Carl Thayer, a Vietnam expert based at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

"It's a battle for the positions, and you divide up the spoils."

Analysts said the country could now get back to normal after months of jockeying in the run-up to the congress.

Vietnam is aiming in the next 10 years to become an industrialised country.

However, it has recently been beset by inflation, a trade deficit and the near-bankruptcy of the state-owned shipbuilding conglomerate, Vinashin.

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