Vietnam names first chairwoman of lawmaking National Assembly

Posted on April 01, 2016

HANOI -- Communist Vietnam named a woman for the first time to the influential role of chairperson in its rubber stamp National Assembly on Thursday -- the country’s fourth most powerful position -- state media said.

Vietnam’s newly elected National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, 61, is sworn in during a ceremony at the parliament house in Hanoi on March 31. -- AFP
Veteran lawmaker and senior Communist Party official Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan was elected with 95.5% of votes after a poll in the country’s 500-strong legislative body on early Thursday, state-run VTV said.

“I would like to thank the National Assembly for electing me,” Ms. Ngan said after the ballot, which was broadcast on VTV.

“I vow my resolute loyalty to the nation, the people, and the constitution,” Ms. Ngan, who is from southern Ben Tre province, added.

Ms. Ngan, 61, was selected for the National Assembly chair position in January during the five-yearly Communist Party Congress, which was this year overshadowed by factional fighting.

No other candidates were on the ballot paper, and some 472 out of the 484 lawmakers present on voted in her favor, VTV said.

Her appointment means she is the highest ranking female party official.

The majority of Communist Party officials are men, but women are reasonably well represented in the ranks, with around 25% of National Assembly delegates being female.

Vietnam is in the midst of a leadership handover after the country’s top communist leader, Nguyen Phu Trong, was reelected as party secretary general in January in a victory for the party’s old guard.

Reformist Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung lost out in internal party elections and is due to step down next week, when the National Assembly will vote on his replacement.

This is expected to be Nguyen Xuan Phuc, currently a deputy prime minister, state media said.

On Saturday, the National Assembly will also elect a new president, expected to be Tran Dai Quang, a police general who rose through the ranks within the country’s powerful Ministry of Public Security.

Political analyst Pham Chi Dung told AFP that Ms. Ngan’s election as National Assembly chair was a strategic choice by the party to ensure a power balance between the country’s key regions.

“It’s no breakthrough,” for gender equality, he said. “Ngan is from [Vietnam’s] south and has support from [party secretary] Trong and [Prime Minister] Dung,” he said.

Only a handful of the 19-member politburo, including Ms. Ngan, are from the country’s south, analyst Mr. Dung said. -- AFP