Feb. 1 (UPI) — The ruling party of the Vietnamese government concluded its quinquennial congress on Monday by giving leader Nguyen Phu Trong a third term — even though the rules say a leader can serve only two.
Trong was reappointed as general-secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party, the country’s de facto head of state, after party leaders failed to reach a consensus on a successor.
Vuong Dinh Hue, Hanoi Party Committee secretary and a protege of Trong’s, did not receive enough support to win the post.
Under party rules, the general-secretary can serve only two five-year terms and cannot serve past the age of 65. Trong is 76, but was given an exception to continue in the post.
Trong, who represents a conservative Marxist-Leninist faction of the party, chose to continue in his post instead of allowing a rival faction to assume the office.
Trong vowed Monday to continue focusing on economic growth and crack down on corruption.
“We have taken back millions of U.S. dollars,” Trong told reporters. “We will persevere with the fight against corruption.”
Trong’s reign is now the longest since Le Duan took the helm following the death of revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh in 1969, and he’s the first general-secretary to serve three terms since Vietnam was reunified in 1976.
Trong also assumed the presidency in 2018 following the death of incumbent, Tran Dai Quang.
During the National Congress, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc lost his bid for general-secretary but was appointed to succeed Trong as president. He will ascend to the post later this year when the new leaders are ratified.
Trong has been accused of repression during his tenure, and criticized for harsh prison sentences for journalists and critics.