Vietnam elects prime minister amid huge challenges

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 7:19 AM

In a formal vote, four hundred forty-six of the four hundred ninety members in the National Gathering voted to establish Phuc, sixty-one, as the head of government. The appointment of Phuc, who rose from Gov of the central province of Quang Nam to deputy prime minister five years ago, was a mere formality after he was picked at the Communist Party'south congress in Jan as the sole candidate to replace Nguyen Tan Dung, who was removed from office Wednesday.

Vietnam elects prime minister amid huge challenges

Vietnam'south rubber-stamp parliament on Thursday elected Nguyen Xuan Phuc as prime minister, and he takes office at a time of soaring public debt, a worrying budget deficit and China'south growing assertiveness in nearby seas.

In a formal vote, four hundred forty-six of the four hundred ninety members in the National Gathering voted to establish Phuc, sixty-one, as the head of government.

The appointment of Phuc, who rose from Gov of the central province of Quang Nam to deputy prime minister five years ago, was a mere formality after he was picked at the Communist Party'south congress in Jan as the sole candidate to replace Nguyen Tan Dung, who was removed from office Wednesday.

Phuc took the oath of office and vowed "absolute loyalty to the country, people and the Constitution."

In a televised inaugural speech, Phuc vowed to continue with reforms and fight corruption.

He raised his voice when pledged to "firmly defend the country'south independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Phuc takes office at a time when the country is crippled with soaring public debt, a serious budget deficit, China'south territorial assertiveness in the S China Sea, as well as an unprecedented drought and salt intrusion in the country'south main rice-growing region of the southern Mekong Delta.

"Mr. Phuc will start his tenure when the economy has been in huge trouble," Le Hong Hiep, a visiting fellow at Singapore'south Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said in an email.

"He will have to overcome major challenges to reform the state-owned sector and banking system, make better the country'south monetary position, and strengthen the private sector to create the economy less dependent on foreign investments," Hiep said.

Phuc'south appointment completes the triumvirate of power, which includes Common Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong who was re-elected at the party congress in Jan and President Tran Dai Quang who was elected by the gathering last week.

Nguyen Quang A, an economist and political analyst, said the trend of reforms and international integration in Vietnam won't be stopped regardless of who's in power.

"No one can delay or derail the international integration, that's the only way for the country's survival."

International rights groups and U. S. government have frequently criticized Vietnam for jailing people who peacefully express their views, by using vaguely worded security laws. Hanoi says that only law breakers are punished.

The sentencing of seven bloggers and activists in March for "abusing democratic freedoms" and "spreading anti-state propaganda" drew powerful opposition from the U. S. government and international rights groups.

"I don't think that Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc as the new prime minister will have a large role in improving Vietnam'south human rights record," Quang A said, noting the country is ruled by collective leadership.

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