Vietnam parliament to put new leadership to work early

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2016 4:15 AM

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam's outgoing parliament convened for a final session on Monday that will see a new leadership and cabinet take office three months early, ditching the normal route of the public electing a new legislature first.

The National Assembly said the move was to expedite a drawn-out transition and put a new government to work sooner rather than wait for a parliamentary election in May and house endorsement in July.

That means Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will be relieved of his duties earlier than expected, hastening his controversial exit following a Communist Party congress in January at which he was overlooked for the top post of party chief.

Dung has served the maximum two terms as premier and has no future political role. Despite his popularity as an economic liberal who stood up to China's maritime assertiveness, experts say party stalwarts feared Dung could become a strongman in a country traditionally ruled by consensus.

The assembly's general secretary, Nguyen Hanh Phuc, said the change in plan was about boosting efficiency.

"We need new spirit, new motivation, new impetus, implemented from the beginning," he told reporters on Friday when explaining why a new government would be approved by outgoing legislators.

The process is a formality, with nominations for prime minister, president and parliament speaker already approved by the party, which controls the rubber-stamp legislature.

The nominations are Dung's deputy, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, as premier, Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang as president and National Assembly vice-chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan as legislative head.

Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong was re-elected for a second term at the January congress.

Lawmakers are set to endorse the three main posts separately between March 31 and April 7. New ministerial positions are due to be approved on April 9.

(Reporting by Martin Petty and Mai Nguyen; Editing by Nick Macfie)