Vietnam’s Leaders Approve Vo Van Thuong’s Resignation; Dang Dinh Bach Denied Food in Prison

Vietnam’s Leaders Approve Vo Van Thuong’s Resignation; Dang Dinh Bach Denied Food in Prison

Vietnam Communist Party Leaders Meet Wednesday to Decide on President Vo Van Thuong’s Resignation, Officials Say

On March 20, the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) approved President Vo Van Thuong's resignation as a Politburo and Central Committee member and dismissed him from his position as chairman of the National Defense and Security Council.

Vietnam’s Central Inspection Committee declared that Vo Van Thuong had violated Party regulations dictating the responsibility of a state official, although it did not specify what he had done. According to the Central Committee, Vo Van Thuong’s violations and shortcomings have affected the reputation of the party, the state, and himself.

On March 19, Bloomberg reported that VCP leaders are set to meet on March 20 to discuss and decide on Vo Van Thuong's resignation, according to two officials familiar with the matter. The officials requested anonymity as the matter is private. The decision will be made at the Central Committee meeting and formalized in the National Assembly the following day.

Speculation surrounding Thuong’s possible resignation emerged after a letter was circulated among National Assembly members calling for an “extraordinary session” on March 21 to address “personnel matters.” Previously, Vietnamese authorities have requested that the state visit of the Dutch King and Queen to Vietnam at the invitation of Vo Van Thuong, scheduled for between March 19 and 23, be postponed due to “internal circumstances.”

Thuong, 53, became the state president in March 2023 after his predecessor - Nguyen Xuan Phuc - stepped down to assume responsibility for his involvement in several corruption cases. The anti-graft campaign, initiated and headed by Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong, had led to the arrests and resignation of many senior party and government officials. Thuong was last seen publicly on March 12 when he received the Pakistani ambassador in Hanoi.

Vietnamese Political Prisoner Dang Dinh Bach Denied Food in Prison, His Wife Says 

Dang Dinh Bach, a political prisoner and director of the Center for Research on Law and Policy for Sustainable Development, said he endured two weeks in prison without food in a call home on Feb. 27, his wife told Radio Free Asia. Bach was arrested for tax evasion on June 24, 2021, and is serving a five-year sentence in Nghe An Prison No. 5 in central Vietnam.

Tran Phuong Thao, Bach’s wife, said her husband called and informed her that he had run out of the food sent by his family and had not received prison rations since last September. Thao sent a guaranteed delivery parcel of six kilograms of dry food the next day, but Bach told her during their recent meeting on March 12 that he had not received it.

She said the package was successfully delivered to the prison on March 4, as evidenced by a delivery notice from the post office, including a signature from an officer at the Nghe An Prison No. 6. A prison warden promised Thao he would review the case when she reported it. Thao added that the prison canteen also refused to sell her husband food, leading him to starve as he was denied prison rations and items sent by his family.

Vietnam’s Prosecutors Suggest Death Sentence for Tycoon Truong My Lan

Prosecutors in Vietnam on March 19 recommended the death sentence for Truong My Lan, chairwoman of real estate firm Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, alleging she had committed a series of serious crimes over an extended period, which had caused serious consequences. According to the indictment, Lan, 68, had run a sophisticated fraud scheme to draw customers’ money from Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB), of which she owned more than 90% of its shares.

The Van Thinh Phat chairwoman was accused of engaging in “embezzlement,” “giving bribes,” and “violations of banking regulations.” The prosecutors recommended sentencing Lan to death on a charge of embezzlement and between 19 and 20 years each for bribery and violating banking regulations.

Other former SCB leaders accused of aiding Lan in her crimes face recommended life sentences for their involvement in embezzlement and regulatory violations. Do Thi Nhan, former director of the inspection department at the State Bank of Vietnam, received a proposed life imprisonment for accepting bribes from Truong My Lan.

The Associated Press reported that the alleged fraud could reach as high as $12.5 billion, nearly 3% of Vietnam’s 2022 GDP, making it the biggest financial fraud case on record. Truong My Lan and her associates' arrest and investigation come amidst an ongoing and robust anti-corruption drive in Vietnam that has gained momentum since 2022. 

Many analysts said that while the anti-corruption campaign helped polish the VCP's image, it has nonetheless stalled Vietnam’s economy and panicked foreign investors.

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Two Presidents Ousted in One Year: What Lies Ahead for Vietnam’s Political Outlook?

Fulcrum/ Le Hong Hiep/ March 20

“Against this backdrop, the political uncertainties in Vietnam are expected to continue. Some investors may decide to wait until the dust is settled before making any major investment decisions. The country’s foreign relations may also be affected, with potential delays or cancellations of high-level bilateral exchanges. For instance, due to Thuong’s pending removal, a visit to Vietnam by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, which was scheduled for 19 to 22 March, has been postponed at Vietnam’s request.”

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