Sunday, June 25, 2006

Vietnam leaders go as anti-corruption fight looms

Two months ago, Jan McGirk remarked that Vietnam's ruling Communist Party may be set for a change of guard after disclosures of a betting scandal had touched the highest echelons of the government. She tipped the "anticipated exits" of both President Tran Duc Luong and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai (pictured) following an explosive series of corruption revelations after the news that more than 200 civil servants embezzled £4 million in government funds - much of it foreign development grants - to gamble on mainly European football matches.

"Sports gambling is now an obsession across Vietnam, not just in government offices. It has become so widespread that the national sports ministry may introduce a legitimate system for football bets, to take the lucrative trade out of the hands of cyber-bookmakers and touts, and generate money for the state," she wrote.

Yesterday, Vietnam's President Tran Duc Luong, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Van An, one by one read their resignation letters to the legislative assembly. They were accepted. "It's necessary to reshuffle several senior positions of the nation to ensure comprehensive Party leadership, harmonize the leadership of the Party with the State and guarantee the succession of the national leadership," Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh told the parliament.

"Manh promised to boost efforts to fight corruption, which the party recognizes as a threat to its rule and its hopes of lifting the Southeast Asian country out of poverty in the next 10 to 15 years," Grant McCool of Reuters reported.

See also: Betting scandal impacts on Vietnam's government (20 Apr) and Viet-Canadian illegal-football-bettng boss arrested (25 May)

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