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Party Leader Of Ho Chi Minh City Named Country’s Top Leader

December 18, 1986

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ The Communist Party today named Nguyen Van Linh, a 73-year-old economic reformer, as Vietnam’s leader and moved other proponents of change into top positions.

They replace aging revolutionaries who helped found the party in 1930 and unified the country in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam war. The outgoing leaders have been criticized in the past few months for failing to revive Vietnam’s economy.

The Sixth Party Congress also chose a new 13-member Politburo, the day-to- day ruling body. The Voice of Vietnam radio said six members were dropped from the Politburo, including Defense Minister Van Tien Dung.

The broadcast also said the congress named 124 full members and 49 alternate members to the policymaking Central Committee.

The changes announced during the four-day congress only apply to party posts. Changes in the government are expected to be announced at a later date.

On Wednesday, the country’s top three leaders resigned. They are party Secretary General Truong Chinh, Premier Pham Van Dong and key Politburo member Le Duc Tho.

Linh will replace Chinh as the party’s secretary general. Linh was a key party figure in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and gained national prominence after the Communist victory in 1975 as party chief in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon.

He turned around the city’s economy by pushing through reforms that gave greater autonomy to factory managers.

He was dropped from the Politburo in 1982, possibly for what hardliners considered his ″soft″ position on transforming the southern Vietnamese economy into a communist model.

He has made a dramatic comeback since 1985 as the central leadership came under growing pressure to reform the economy plagued by constant shortages, rampant inflation and inadequate distribution of goods.

Linh recently left his post as party chief of Ho Chi Minh City to become a member of the Central Committee’s Secretariat in Hanoi. He increasingly took on tasks normally assigned to national leaders.

Interior Minister Pham Hung, a veteran who began his revolutionary career fighting the French colonialists, emerged in the congress as the second- ranking Politburo member behind Linh. Hung will replace Dong.

Do Moi, a member of the old guard, moved up in the Politburo to replace Tho.

Vo Chi Con and Vo Van Kiet were also advanced in rank. Both have been associated with efforts to add free market style incentives to the economy, especially the agricultural sector.

A number of those who rose in rank have had experience in directing party and government affairs in southern Vietnam, where the north’s orthodox communism has failed to take root.

Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach, regarded by some as more pragmatic than the older leaders, moved up from an alternate membership in the Politburo to full membership.

Thach has traveled widely in the East and West and has met with several members of Congress who came to Hanoi to resolve the issue of American servicemen missing in action.

Party officials said Wednesday that Chinh, 79, Dong, 80, and Tho, 76, resigned because of their age and bad health. Officials said they would become advisers to the Central Committee.

″Generally, we are glad,″ a government official said of the leadership change. ″The new situation, the new tasks will be done by stronger men.″

The official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the former leaders were ″very old and rather out of date.″

Chinh, Dong and Tho helped Ho Chi Minh found the Indochinese Communist Party 56 years ago fought the French, Japanese and Americans. After Ho died in 1969, they and Le Duan, who died in July, led the Communists to victory in Vietnam.

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