Downfall of party highflyer suggests leadership infighting

The allegations against Dinh La Thang first surfaced on Facebook

The Communist party’s decision on Sunday to dismiss a prominent member of the Politburo could be the harbinger of further ructions in the leadership, according to observers.

Dinh La Thang, who is also party boss in Ho Chi Minh City, was removed from his position on the top policy making body – an extremely rare move against such a senior figure.

He was sacked for what were termed “very serious mistakes and violations” while running PetroVietnam, the national oil giant, more than six years ago.

Mr Thang was only appointed to the Politburo last year at a time of barely concealed infighting between opposing factions in the party.

He was seen as a close ally of the former prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, who lost out in his bid for the top job in the Communist party.

Mr Thang’s dismissal now suggests to some observers that the party’s General-Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, is further consolidating his grip by targeting a protege of his old rival.

For public consumption, the move is portrayed as part of a drive to clean up endemic mismanagement and corruption in state run industries.

Mr Thang was accused of allowing PetroVietnam to make loans that resulted in major losses for the company.

He was also accused of advising the former prime minister in a number of bidding proposals that failed to comply with the law.

Unusually, hints of the move to bring down Mr Thang first surfaced on social media and was not reported by the state controlled press.

The prominent writer and historian, Huy Duc, used his Facebook page last year to attack the official, accusing him responsibility for major losses at the state oil giant.

The case resurfaced at the end of last month when the Communist party’s inspection committee announced that Mr Thang was being investigated for serious violations.

A government statement said on Sunday that 90% of members of the Central Committee had voted for his dismissal.

It said that his actions had caused a loss of confidence amongst the people and members of the party.