Hanoi official"s death likely to spur leadership change

The death yesterday of Vietnamese Communist Party leader Le Duan appears likely lớn bring to a head a power struggle that has been under way in Hanoi in anticipation of changes in the country"s aging leadership, according to lớn U.S. government sources và Vietnam giới scholars.

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Le Duan, 79, died at 3:30 a.m. yesterday after a long illness, Radio Hanoi announced. It did not give sầu the cause of death, nor did it mention a successor.

A 25-member funeral các buổi party named later provided no clear-cut indication of how the succession question would be resolved. But analysts said it suggested that reform-minded tiệc nhỏ leaders are gaining the upper hand over ideologues and that one of the reformists may be in line to become the next Communist Party chief.

The funeral tiệc nhỏ menu was headed by President Truong Chinh, 79, & included Politburo members in their established order. But a potentially significant change was that Nguyen Van Linh, a leading resize advocate who recently emerged from disgrace, was listed for the first time as a member of the party secretariat.

Another change was that Le Duc Tho, 75, Hanoi"s chief negotiator at the Paris peace talks during the Vietphái mạnh war, was apparently dropped from the secretariat. State Department analysts were divided over whether this meant that Le Duc Tho was less likely to become an interyên ổn successor to lớn Le Duan, but agreed that Nguyen Van Linh"s star appeared to be rising.

In the months ahead, Vietnamese leaders will likely be forced to lớn come to lớn grips with growing competition between the ideologues và reformers identified with more pragmatic policies, the sources said. The debate has focused on domestic economic issues và is not expected to have an immediate impact on foreign policy matters such as Vietnam"s close relationship with the Soviet Union, the Vietnamese military occupation of neighboring Cambodia or dealings with the United States. But the accession to lớn power of younger, reformist leaders could eventually lead to foreign policy changes as well, some analysts believe.

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The death of Le Duan, who had served as tiệc ngọt leader for more than 30 years & succeeded Ho Chi Minh as the effective sầu tiệc nhỏ chief in 1969, "may now force the issue a bit," a State Department official said of the leadership question. Despite "very obvious maneuvering for the succession" in Hanoi, he said, Vietnamese leaders passed up a chance khổng lồ reshuffle the aging party hierarchy openly during a Central Committee plenum last month. The next opportunity is expected khổng lồ be a party congress scheduled for November or December.

One widely expected change is the retirement of Prime Minister Pđê mê Van Dong, 80, who has been in poor health.

According lớn Murray Hiebert, a Vietnam giới analyst who heads the Indochimãng cầu Project of the Washington-based nonprofit Center for International Policy, tiệc ngọt cadres & middle-cấp độ government officials in Hanoi have sầu been expressing unusually sharp criticism lately of the long-entrenched leadership, which is seen as lacking the energy và imagination khổng lồ meet rising economic expectations. Hiebert, who visited Hanoi last month, said he found the critical mood there "incredible" & raised the prospect of "a major crisis of confidence" if significant leadership changes bởi not occur.

Vietnamese leaders now "really are worried about morale và indiscipline," a State Department analyst said.

Hiebert said Vo Chi Cong, currently the number six man in the Politburo, was being touted as a potential interyên successor because he is not clearly identified with either camp. President Truong Chinh is considered the leading ideologue, while Le Duc Tho has been identified as representing younger reformists.

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Nguyen Van Linc, who served as các buổi tiệc nhỏ secretary in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) before he was dropped from the Politburo in 1982, is sometimes called a "little Gorbachev" who has the potential to lớn bring more vigorous leadership to lớn Vietphái mạnh in the style of the Soviet Communist Party chief. He reappeared in the Politburo last year and was ranked ninth in yesterday"s funeral tiệc ngọt các mục.