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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vietnam Denies Rift In Selecting Politburo

HANOI -- On the eve of a national congress that will ratify a new top leadership, a Communist Party official denied Thursday that the selection process has been marred by division.

"The preparation of personnel .. follows a very harmonious routine. There has been no crisis," said Hong Ha, chairman of the congress preparation committee.

On Thursday, a closed-door meeting of the powerful party Central Committee nominated in secret the names of a new inner politburo -- the country's top policy-making body.

Political sources said the new line-up comprised 19 people, including both young technocrats and old-guard revolutionaries and 10 members of the current 17-man politburo.

As expected, the names of the leadership triumvirate, Party General Secretary Do Muoi, 79, President Le Duc Anh, 75, and Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet, 73, were included. All three are in their 70s and might serve one or two years only, rather than second five-year terms, according to the reports.

In addition to the politburo line-up, details emerged Thursday of an intended policy course over the next five years. An unofficial translation of the party's policy blueprint contained pledges that a stock market would be established and the rights of the private sector enshrined. But it ruled out privatization of state-owned enterprises, which it described as the levers of rapid economic growth, and said the state and party apparatus should be reinforced.

Vietnam's ruling Communists hold congresses every five years to reassess basic policy and chose new leaders. Months of preparation give the party's 2.2 million members a rare opportunity to voice opinions, although discussions are carefully guided and fall far short of free-wheeling debates.

Official newspaper articles in recent months have supported the reports of discord, accusing unidentified senior officials of abusing their power, slandering others and seeking to advance their own interests rather than those of the party.

(AP, Reuters)