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Cablegate: (Sbu) Pesonnel Changes in Vietnam's Communist Party

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 001321

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NOFORN

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR SOCI VM DPOL
SUBJECT: (SBU) PESONNEL CHANGES IN VIETNAM'S COMMUNIST PARTY

1. (SBU/NF) Summary: Personnel shifts within the Communist Party
in Southern Vietnam indicate that jockeying for position ahead of
the party's 10th Congress in 2006 is underway. A contact close to
the Party told us that the Party's Central Committee had begun to
consider who might succeed Prime Minister Phan Van Khai. One top
candidate, HCMC Party Secretary and Politburo member Nguyen Minh
Triet was diagnosed recently with cancer, casting a cloud over his
prospects. Meanwhile, Triet had one of his protoges named as
deputy of the HCMC branch of the Party. End Summary.

CPV personnel shifts begin
--------------------------

2. (SBU) On October 9, HCMC media reported that the Politburo had
decided to reassign and promote Mr. Le Hoang Quan, Communist Party
Secretary of Dong Nai Province, to Deputy Secretary of the Party

SIPDIS
in HCMC. Quan, a member of the Party's Central Committee, will
replace Vo Van Cuong, who was responsible for anti-corruption
efforts, internal party personnel and discipline for the Party in
HCMC. He will report directly to Politburo member and HCMC Party
Secretary Nguyen Minh Triet.

SIPDIS

3. (SBU/NF) Two ConGen contacts, a prominent member of the local
Chinese community and a Viet Kieu businessman, both with long-term
contacts with the Party, told us that Quan is a protg of Triet's
--both hail from Binh Duong province in southern Vietnam. The
contacts added that Quan is one of the individuals responsible for
making Dong Nai province one of the more investor-friendly and
d
economically dynamic provinces in the region.

4. (SBU/NF) Our sources said that Triet is grooming Quan to become
his replacement. If all goes according to plan, current HCMC
People's Committee Chairman Le Thanh Hai -- another serious
contender for the top slot in the HCMC Party structure -- would be
transferred to Can Tho next year to be Party Secretary, clearing
the field for Quan when the HCMC Party unit holds its
organizational Congress next year.

5. (SBU/NF) However, our contacts speculated that Quan might have
to replace Triet as HCMC Party leader sooner rather than later.
They told us that, in September, Triet was diagnosed with prostate
cancer. A specialist at HCMC's Franco-Viet hospital separately
confirmed Triet's illness and said that Triet would have to travel
to Singapore for treatment, as Vietnamese hospitals did not have
the capability to treat the disease effectively.

Triet as Prime Minister?
------------------------

6. (SBU/NF) Triet's illness may have national political
implications. The HCMC Party leader has been widely mentioned as
a leading contender for Prime Minister when incumbent Phan Van
Khai's term ends in 2007. One of our sources told us that in an
internal straw poll of the Party's Central Committee in June 2004,
Triet was selected as first option to replace Van Khai, with
fellow southerners and politburo members Truong Tan Sang and
Nguyen Tan Dung ranked second and third respectively. Triet's
cancer diagnosis may call into question his ability to serve as
PM. (Traditionally, the post of Prime Minister has gone to a
southerner, President to a party member from central Vietnam and
General Secretary of the Party to a northerner.)

7. (SBU/NF) According to our business contact, Triet has indicated
that he would prefer to see Dung as PM rather than Sang. Sang,
now head of the Central Economics Commission, was Party Secretary
of HCMC when Triet was promoted to become his deputy. The two
reportedly had a falling out in the year they served together
before Sang was transferred to Hanoi. Dung, meanwhile, is another
high profile southerner and a protege of former PM Vo Van Kiet.
Dung is charged by the Politburo to oversee efforts to manage
development and ethnic minority issues in the Central Highlands.
He also is head of the Mekong Delta Development Commission and has
a strong power-base in the Can Tho region.

8. (SBU/NF) Comment: The Party is extremely opaque, particularly
on personnel issues. Nonetheless, the promotion of Quan and the
other information our contacts are reporting highlight that Party
members already have become deeply enmeshed in internal
maneuvering in the run-up to the 2006 Party Congress.

WINNICK

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