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Vietnamese Assembly Elects Pro-Business Corruption Fighter as President


Vietnam's National Assembly has elected a pro-business corruption fighter to be the country's next president. The move signals a transfer of power to a group of younger leaders following the retirement of the three senior members of the government.

The Vietnamese parliament Tuesday chose an economic reformer with a reputation for fighting corruption as the country's new president.

Mr. Triet, 63, the former Communist Party chief of Ho Chi Minh City, pledged to build a socialist state governed by law. He then nominated Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, a former state bank chief and military officer, as the country's next prime minister. Mr. Dung was immediately confirmed.

Legislators Monday chose former Hanoi Communist Party head Nguyen Phu Trong to be the new chairman of the National Assembly.

All three men ran unopposed in a leadership transition that has been widely anticipated since the Communist Party congress in April.

The new leaders, who are all in their 50s and early 60s, are to oversee Vietnam's admission later this year into the World Trade Organization, WTO More importantly, they are expected to strengthen a campaign against rampant corruption, which experts say could threaten the country's booming economic growth.

Retiring Prime Minister Phan Van Khai highlighted the concern in his outgoing speech to the assembly two weeks ago. He took responsibility for continued waste and corruption, which he said threatens Vietnam's survival as a society.

He says investigators have focused too much on average employees and failed to attack corruption by senior state officials.

Vietnam has been shaken this past year by a series of multi-million dollar corruption scandals centered on contracts at the Transportation Ministry. The buying of government jobs has also reportedly become a serious problem.

The government has sought to accelerate a 20-year-old program to liberalize the economy, which is dominated by large state corporations and restrictive foreign investment laws.

The new leadership is not likely to change the tradition of tight political control that has characterized the government of one of the world's five remaining Communist countries.