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Vietnam Communists Mark Anniversary Amid Calls for Change

FILE - Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Nov. 24, 2014.

Vietnam's Communist Party is marking its 85th anniversary with a call by party leaders for more action to confront "anti-state" elements.

Activists are firing back with calls for a multiparty system, saying the ruling party has failed.

In an elaborate ceremony late Monday in Hanoi, party chief Nguyen Phu Trong said it is crucial to fight against moral, political and ideological decline. He also set out goals for 2015, including strengthening economic stability and assuring social security.

Blogger La Viet Dung, who launched an anti-Communist Party campaign, said Vietnamese no longer pay attention to what party officials have to say.

“They always tell lies about what party has achieved," Dung said. "But in reality, people get poorer and the sovereignty of the country is threatened."

The one-party Southeast Asian country does not tolerate political dissent and has detained bloggers and activists for expressing opposition to the ruling party.

Dissident Nguyen Thanh Giang, who was once imprisoned for criticizing the party, said challenges the party is facing are rooted in a lack of political competition.

“If Vietnam wants to correct all wrongdoing and avoid social chaos and unrest, the regime should be changed to be more pluralistic and to reflect the core demands of the society," he said.

This is seen by observers as an important year for the Communist Party as it gears up for its 12th party congress in early 2016. That gathering is expected to select the country's next top leaders.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.