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Vietnam’s new prime minister swears in

Hanoi / AFP

Vietnam’s parliament approved Nguyen XuanPhuc as the communist country’s new prime minister on Thursday, handing him a five-year term and a range of tough challenges from domestic economic reforms to a simmering maritime dispute with China.
Phuc, a former deputy prime minister, was the only candidate nominated for the position by party officials earlier this year and won 90.26 percent of the votes in the rubber stamp parliament, according to state-run VTV.
“I will do my best to serve the country and people,” said the 61-year-old, whose election marks the completion of a five-yearly reshuffle of the Communist Party’s top brass. Phuc takes over from former prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, a charismatic leader who championed a reformist pro-business agenda and talked tough to Beijing over a territorial dispute in the contested South China Sea. Dung lost out in internal party elections in January, which analysts called a move back towards more consensus-based rule by the party’s conservative wing. “Dung was an individualist working within a conservative system of collective leadership. His demise is evidence that Vietnam is not yet ready for a modern, world savvy, prime minister,” Vietnam expert Carl Thayer said. Authoritarian Vietnam is run by the Communist Party and officially led by a triumvirate of the party secretary general, president, and prime minister, with key decisions being made by the 19-member politburo.

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