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To Lam confirmed as new president of Vietnam

Photo: Pham Trung Kien VNA via Associated Press To Lam was sworn in, after being designated President of Vietnam by 472 of the 473 deputies, on Wednesday May 22, 2024.

France Media Agency in Bangkok

Published yesterday at 11:46 p.m.

  • Asia

The Vietnamese National Assembly confirmed on Wednesday the appointment of Public Security Minister To Lam to the post of president of the authoritarian country, at the suggestion of the Communist Party, after the resignation of his predecessor following a vast anti-corruption purge.

By secret ballot, 472 of the 473 Vietnamese deputies approved this choice, according to state television.

Mr. Lam, 66, who has headed the ministry since 2016, has taken a hard line there against human rights movements.

It seemed expected that he combines the presidency and his position as Minister of Security, which would have been a first in Vietnam.

But a few hours before the secret ballot, the parliamentarians decided to dismiss him from his ministerial function.

“The indecision over the post of public security minister shows that other members of the elite were hesitant to grant this post to one of To Lam's protégés,” Nguyen Khac Giang, a researcher, told AFP. invited to the Yusof Ishak Institute at ISEAS, specialist in Southeast Asia.

“And To Lam himself was reluctant to relinquish control on the main tool of the anti-corruption campaign”, he added.

His appointment as president follows the resignation in March of Vo Van Thuong, 53 years old, after only one year of presidency.

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His spectacular fall came at a time when Vietnam was undergoing major political changes, with his predecessor also ousted as part of an anti-corruption campaign that saw thousands sacked, including several ministers, and business leaders from leading trial for fraud and corruption.

In this communist country, the strong man is the party's general secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, considered the architect of the anti-corruption campaign, popular with public opinion.

But the new president also played an important role in these purges, according to Zachary Abuza, professor at the National War College in Washington: Mr. Lam exploited anti-corruption investigations and “systematically eliminated politburo rivals who were eligible to become general secretary” of the CPV.

Controlling dissent

To Lam has spent his entire career within the top-secret Ministry of Public Security , which deals with the control of dissent.

In Vietnam, no opposition to the one-party regime is tolerated, critical voices being subjected to intimidation, harassment and travel restrictions.

Rights groups even say that the government has intensified repression in recent years.

Three years ago, To Lam set the internet on fire in Vietnam, after the publication of a video showing him eating a steak covered in gold leaf in a chic London restaurant , shortly after laying a wreath on the grave of Karl Marx.

The restaurant, Nusr-Et Steakhouse, by Turkish chef Nusret Gokce — “Salt Bae” to his 40 million Instagram followers — serves cuts of meat wrapped in 24-karat gold leaf, costing more than $1,000.

The video caused a scandal in a country where the average income is a few dollars per day.

A few months later, the regime imprisoned a street vendor guilty of posting a parody video that went viral in which he sprinkled herbs on noodle soup like Salt Bae.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116