Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc resigns amid Communist Party crackdown on corruption – CNN

Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc resigns amid Communist Party crackdown on corruption – CNN

Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc has resigned after the ruling Communist Party blamed him for “violations and misconduct” by officials under his control, the government said Tuesday in a major escalation of the country’s anti-graft campaign.

Phuc, a former prime minister widely credited with accelerating pro-business reforms, has held the largely ceremonial presidency since 2021 and is the senior official targeted by the party’s sweeping anti-corruption drive.

Vietnam has no supreme ruler and is officially run by four “pillars”: the party secretary, the president, the prime minister and the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Phuc, 68, was ultimately responsible for crimes committed by many officials, including two deputy prime ministers and three ministers, the government said.

“Fully aware of his responsibility to the party and the people, he submitted a motion to resign from his assigned positions, quit his job and retire,” the statement said.

Phuc’s office could not be immediately reached for comment and it was not clear if a replacement had been selected.

There was much speculation in Vietnam that he would be ousted in January after the sacking of two deputy prime ministers who served under him, as the party ramps up its anti-corruption campaign led by its powerful longtime leader Nguyen Phu Trong.

Last year, 539 party members were prosecuted or “disciplined” for corruption and “willful misconduct,” including ministers, top officials and diplomats, the party said, while police investigated 453 corruption cases, up 50% from 2021.

Earlier this month, Trong said the party was “more decisive” and “more effective and methodical” in its approach and vowed to deliver results.

Opinions differ about the impact of the anti-graft campaign on investments and politics.

Le Hong Hiep of the Vietnam Studies Program at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore said the purge could pave the way for cleaner, more capable leaders.

“As long as the leadership reshuffles do not result in radical political changes, their impact on the economy will also be limited,” Hiep posted on his Facebook account.

However, Ha Hoang Hop, a senior visiting scholar at the same institute, said Phuc’s death and uncertainty about the impact of the crackdown could unsettle investors.

“This could lead Vietnam into a period of instability that would worry foreign friends and investors,” he said.

Phuc’s resignation requires the approval of the Legislature, which sources said Monday would hold a rare extraordinary session this week, raising expectations that Phuc’s fate is sealed.

Phuc, known in Vietnam for his friendly manner and love for the national soccer team, was once tipped as the party’s future general secretary, the state’s most prestigious job.

As Prime Minister from 2016 to 2021, he oversaw 6% compound annual economic growth for Asia’s nascent manufacturing powerhouse and helped drive a liberalization initiative that included trade deals with the European Union and Pacific powers.

Despite his ouster, the government on Tuesday praised his achievements, particularly his response to the pandemic.

“He has made great efforts to lead, direct and manage the prevention and control of the Covid-19 epidemic and achieve important results,” it said.