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Vietnamese leader may be eliminating political opponents

Vietnamese leader may be eliminating political opponents

Posted January. 24, 2018 08:12,   

Updated January. 24, 2018 08:29


A court in Vietnam sentenced a former politburo official to 13 years in prison. The decision was made in a widespread corruption crackdown, the Vietnamese government claims, but foreign press say that the crackdown may be politically motivated.

Dinh La Thang, former politburo official and party secretary of Ho Chi Minh City, was sentenced to 13 years on Monday at the Hanoi City’s People’s Court, according to Associated Press. He was found guilty of economic mismanagement over huge losses of state oil and gas firm PetroVietnam during his term as chairman of the board of directors from 2009 to 2011.

Thang’s political career took off as Minister of Transport, and he was also appointed as one of the top 19 politburo officials at a party congress early last year. Concurrently holding the position of the country’s largest city Ho Chi Minh’s party secretary, he was a rising star in Vietnam’s political circle without doubt.

The situation, however, has suddenly reversed since the Communist Party’s conservative forces led by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong gained control of the politburo two years ago. Thang was sacked from the politburo in May last year over alleged corruption. This was the first time in 20 years and only the second since the Communist Party took power that an incumbent top politburo member was dismissed.

Foreign media including BBC have analyzed that General Secretary Trong may be targeting his possible political opponents in the name of a corruption crackdown, namely those who are close to former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Though he dropped out of a race for the party’s secretary in 2016, Dung still stands influential in Vietnam’s politics. This is why some see the purge of Thang, one of the top aides of Dung, as a warning sent by Trong to other officials.

Sung-Ha Joo zsh75@donga.com