September 26, 2019 / 11:42 AM / 22 days ago

Vietnam Communist Party takes aim at corrupt rising stars

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party has brought in new rules designed to stamp out influence-peddling in appointments to government jobs and stop corrupt officials rising through the ranks, state media said on Thursday.

The new set of rules, which bar officials from using personal connections to benefit themselves or their contacts, were published by the powerful decision-making Politburo on Monday, the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) said.

“If people working in personnel affairs are found to have been involved in malpractices, they will be severely punished and even expelled from the Party if the case is very serious and be dismissed from office,” VNA said.

Corruption is widespread in Vietnam, where low state salaries have encouraged an illicit market for bribes in return for economic or political benefits.

Since his re-election in 2016, Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong has presided over a widespread crackdown on corruption that has seen several high-ranking ministers and politicians, including one Politburo member, handed prison terms on charges ranging from embezzlement to economic mismanagement.

The new regulations from the secretive Politburo highlight in rare detail the illicit mechanisms it says are used to obtain power and lobby for high-ranking positions in the Communist Party and government.

Those mechanisms include using the influence of high-ranking friends and relatives to obtain power; using bribes to ascend the Party ranks; leveraging family backgrounds to obtain an official position; and the planting of “negative pieces of news” against political opponents, VNA said.

The new regulations, signed by Trong, who is also the Southeast Asian country’s president, also call for transparency in appointments at state agencies and ban officials from nominating their relatives for certain positions, according to a copy of the document on the Party’s official website.

The new rules come as Vietnam begins the long run-up to its next Party congress.

Between April and October next year, the Communist Party will hold meetings to elect local Party officials, before holding a key congress in January 2021 to elect central positions.

Those positions, including the Politburo, will determine Vietnam’s economic and political direction for the following five years.Trong, 74, was re-elected as the General Secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party at the last congress following a power struggle with former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Dozens of officials elected under Dung have faced arrest or trial under Trong’s anti-corruption crackdown.

Reporting by Khanh Vu and James Pearson; Editing by Alex Richardson

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