Vietnam's president resigns amid intense anti-corruption campaign

Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong resigned after a little over a year in the job, the Communist Party said Wednesday, making him the latest senior official to leave office amid an intense anti-corruption campaign.

The party said it had accepted his resignation, writing in a statement that “violations by Vo Van Thuong have left a bad mark on the reputation of the Communist party.”

Thuong is the second president to resign in two years, something analysts called a worrying sign for political stability in a country plays a key role in the middle of U.S.-China competition and a growing one in global manufacturing.


His resignation came after weeks of rumors suggesting that he would be removed from office, and on the eve of a special session of Vietnam’s parliament dedicated to “personnel matters.”

Vietnam’s President Vo Van Thuong addresses the media during a joint press conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Nov. 27, 2023, in Tokyo, Japan. Thuong resigned after a little over a year in the job, the Communist Party said on Wednesday, making him the latest senior official to leave office amid an intense anti-corruption campaign. (Richard A. Brooks/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Days earlier, Vietnamese police said they arrested the former head of Central Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province for corruption, who was previously supervised by Thuong as the provincial party chief.

Thuong, 54, became president in March 2023, two months after his predecessor Nguyen Xuan Phuc resigned to take “political responsibility” for corruption scandals during the pandemic. He was the youngest president since modern day Vietnam emerged from war in the mid-1970s.

The position of president in Vietnam is largely ceremonial and ranks third in the country’s political hierarchy. The most powerful position is that of Communist Party general secretary, a post held since 2011 by Nguyen Phu Trong, who is 79.

The ideologically conservative Thuong was considered a protege of Trong’s, and his departure underscores the reach of the anti-corruption drive that has been Trong’s “most important legacy,” said Nguyen Khac Giang, an analyst at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

The party said that Truong’s “violations” had “negatively affected public perception, as well as the reputation of the Party and the state. Being aware of his responsibilities before the Party, the state and the people, Thuong has sent his resignation from his positions,” in a statement reported by state media VN Express International. It’s not clear what violations the statement referred to.

The anti-corruption drive, described by Trong as a “blazing furnace,” has helped cement the top leader’s authority, but Giang said that factions in the party have also sought to use it to purge rivals.

Analysts have warned that the anti-corruption drive has hurt Vietnam’s business environment, making foreign investors jittery about unpredictable economic policies.


Vietnam has tried to strike a balance between its larger neighbor China and the U.S. while positioning itself as an ideal home for businesses looking to shift their supply chains out of China. Last year it was the only country that received both American President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping on state visits.

The campaign has also meant a significant rise in the power of both state and party enforcement agencies.

Rumors of a potential political change flared after a state visit to Vietnam by the Dutch royal family was postponed due to “due to domestic circumstances,” according to a statement from the Dutch Royal house.

The World Bank president likewise put off a visit planned for this week.

Trading volume on Vietnam’s stock exchanges hit a record high on Monday as investors speculated over the president’s future.

More than 1.7 billion shares were traded, setting a record high and state media reported that the “recent increase in net selling pressure from foreign investors” was dragging the market.

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