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Vietnam Communist Leader Warns Against Corruption - 2002-07-19

Vietnam's Communist Party chief is warning legislators that corruption threatens to destroy the communist system. Nong Duc Manh called for a new anti-graft campaign in a speech at the opening of the 11th National Assembly.

Speaking beneath a large bust of revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh, Communist Party leader Nong Duc Manh urged officials to stamp out corruption before it destroyed confidence in the party. He vowed that nobody, no matter how powerful, would escape scrutiny in the crackdown.

Vietnam's new National Assembly was sworn in Friday under the shadow of a gang-related scandal that has ensnared more than 100 government officials. Earlier in the week, the Communist Party's powerful Central Committee expelled two senior members for links to a reputed crime kingpin.

The 498-member parliament, elected in single party elections in May, plans to confirm a new Cabinet line-up next week.

Lawmakers were tight-lipped Friday about the list of recommendations prepared by the Central Committee earlier this week. National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Van An told reporters it would violate democratic principles to make the list public before a vote.

But Mr. An also declared that the National Assembly and the Communist Party "are one" and would work together on approving the new government.

Party insiders and analysts speculate that there will be few major changes in the new government line-up, with both President Tran Duc Luong and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai staying on. The Assembly is scheduled to begin debating the new leadership on Tuesday.