Dung falls in final battle

Dung's drive for the leadership came to nothing. Photo courtesy Reuters

Dung’s drive for the leadership came to nothing. Photo courtesy Reuters

The political ambitions of Vietnam’s two-term prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, have been dashed following a prolonged confrontation with the current Communist Party boss, Nguyen Phu Trong.

In a dramatic climax to the five yearly party congress currently meeting in Hanoi it became clear that Mr Trong was placed to retain his post as general-secretary of the party.

Entrenched conservatives

State media reported that Mr Dung had withdrawn his nomination as a candidate for a place on the Central Committee.

That rules him out as a candidate for the post of general-secretary. The official result will be announced at the end of the congress this week.

Mr Dung was obliged to make his  withdrawal despite a strong show of support from the floor of the congress.

Analysts said that  entrenched conservatives around Mr Trong had done everything in their power to block what once seemed like the unstoppable rise of Mr Dung.

Mr Dung has presented himself as the reformist candidate and has made only token attempts to keep his ambitions for power secret.

Welcomed by China ?

He has been closely associated with market reform and closer relations with the United States.

His defeat will raise questions about the speed of Vietnam’s commitment to further market opening and the strength of its commitment to provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership initialled late last year.

They include a commitment to allow free trade unions which conservatives  see as a direct challenge to the party’s  monopoly on power.

Mr Dung’s fall is likely to be welcomed by China because of the premier’s forceful stance in resisting Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea.

The first indications of Mr Dung’s problems came at a meeting of the outgoing Central Committee and Politburo last week.

Mr Dung is accused by his detractors of corruption and crony capitalism and of being responsible for some spectacular economic failures in his drive for reform.

Observers see little chance that he can recover his influence following the humiliating rebuff he suffered at this year’s  congress.