Vietnam`s top leaders face first confidence vote
Hanoi: Vietnam`s leaders face a first-ever confidence vote in the communist-controlled parliament on Monday as the authoritarian regime seeks to defuse growing public anger over a lack of accountability and corruption.
The vote -- to be held every year -- was approved by the one-party state`s rubber stamp legislature in November and requires most senior politicians, including the prime minister and the president, to win support from lawmakers.
The process has been hailed in the official press as part of a new commitment to transparency and accountability, but observers see little threat to the communist hierarchy and expect the results to be decided in advance behind closed doors.
It will not be "a proper vote" said former deputy Nguyen Minh Thuyet, pointing to a dearth of trustworthy information on how those facing the vote will be assessed.
According to state media, officials who win support from less than half of lawmakers for two consecutive years may be forced to resign -- but this is a "complicated", slow and effectively meaningless process, Thuyet said.
"Everyone will win the vote," he told a news agency, describing widespread concerns that top officials would close ranks behind the scenes to support each other regardless of performance.
The results are expected to be announced on Tuesday.
The most closely watched vote will be for Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who was handed a second five-year term by the party in 2011 despite his widespread unpopularity among the Vietnamese public.
Dung has faced down repeated threats to his premiership including rare public criticism from senior party figures and even an unprecedented call from one lawmaker to resign.
Critics blame the 63-year-old`s policies and governing style for Vietnam`s economic malaise, endemic corruption and banking system riddled with toxic debt, mostly held by state-run companies.
Top officials running state-owned companies frequently flaunt lifestyles incompatible with their official remuneration, fuelling public anger at corruption, inefficiency and waste in the sprawling sector.
But the Communist Party tightly controls public debate and routinely imprisons dissidents who question the political system or call for change.
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