The governing Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) on Wednesday elected Nguyen Phu Trong as the new General Secretary in succession to Nong Duc Manh. Mr. Trong, Chairman of Vietnam's National Assembly until now, was chosen the party's highest functionary for a five-year term.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is expected to retain his position at the helm of government following his inclusion as a prominent member of the party's new 14-strong Politburo.

For a touch of praetorian politics, or a significant say for the military establishment in the country's governance, three ranking officers from the armed forces are in the party's new politburo. They are General Le Hong Anh, currently Minister of Public Security; Lieutenant-General Tran Dai Quang, now Deputy Minister of Public Security; and National Defence Minister, General Phung Quang Thanh.

The new CPV line-up was announced shortly before the conclusion of the party's eight-day 11th national congress in Hanoi. A general view in the East Asian diplomatic circles is that the latest CPV changes are aimed at a “softer” continuation of economic reforms in the “increasingly globalising” country. While Vietnam's relationship with the United States has hit a dramatic upward trajectory in recent years, the CPV now publicised that the 171 congratulatory messages it received from foreign parties, organisations, and friends included that of Anne Morrison Welsh, widow of the man who had resorted to self-immolation outside the Pentagon in protest against the U.S. war in Vietnam.

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