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Vietnam’s Leaders Cite Mistakes, Say It’s Time to ‘Purify’

December 15, 1986

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ Vietnam’s leaders said Monday the Communist Party and government have made serious mistakes and it is time to ″purify″ both of them.

The spartan capital was brightened for the opening of the party’s sixth congress by new paint on many buildings and hundreds of Vietnamese flags - bright red with a yellow star at the center.

Truong Chinh, the 79-year-old party chief, declared that ″bold″ changes were needed in managing the economy, which he said had not improved despite plans and promises.

Sources in the government and foreign diplomatic conmunity said Chinh and two other long-time leaders would resign during the congress.

There was no official confirmation of the leadership changes, which logically would be announced at the closing session Thursday, but one official closely involved with the congress said: ″It is definite.″

All the sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

In April, the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri said it was told by a ranking party official that party chief Le Duan, Chinh, Premier Pham Van Dong and Le Duc Tho, a leading member of the Politburo, would resign at the congress. Le Duan died in July, and Chinh succeeded him.

The resignations could open the way to the top leadership for party figures identified with capitalist-style economic reforms.

They include Nguyen Van Linh, 73, who promoted reforms in southern Vietnam as party secretary in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. There have been reports he would succeed Chinh.

Vice Premier Vo Chi Cong, 73, a former agriculture minister, and 74-year- old Vo Nguyen Giap, top military strategist in the wars against France and the United States, have have been mentioned as possible successors to Premier Dong, who is 80.

Chinh, Dong, and Tho, 75, head a list of aging revolutionaries in the 14- member Politburo. All were close associates of Ho Chi Minh, who founded the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930 and died in 1969.

They and Le Duan led the party after the death of Ho, with whom they fought French colonialists and Japanese invaders before defeating American and South Vietnamese forces in April 1975.

This is the first party congress Western news organizations have been allowed to cover. It involves 1,129 delegates representing the party’s 1.8 million members.

Chinh told delegates that goals set by the fifth party congress four years ago had not been achieved.

″We frankly analyze and bravely admit the serious and long-lasting shortcomings and mistakes as concerns major viewpoints and policies, strategic guidance and the organization of work,″ he said.

″We must plan to purify the party and the administration and preserve the traditions of unity within party ranks,″ and ″we must boldly renovate″ the economy, he said.

Politburo member Vo Van Kiet said unemployment, waste and shortages of raw materials characterize a situation ″rife with difficulties.″

Grain production must be increased, he said, and a 70 percent increase in exports will be needed over the next five years to balance the cost of imports.

Kiet stressed the importance of the Soviet Union and other Communist countries in economic plans but added: ″Vietnam will also strive to better relations with the capitalist countries of the world.″

While advocating reform, including the elimination of state subsidies, neither Kiet nor Chinh called for significant capitalist-style economic measures such as those adopted in China and Hungary.

Dau Ngoc Xuan, vice chairman of the State Planning Commission, told a news conference most outside aid would continue to come from the Soviet bloc but Vietnam would welcome Western aid and investment, including joint ventures.

″Widening economic relations and drawing in foreign funds is a major strategic priority of our party,″ he said.

He said there is a place for the private economy, especially in agriculture, small handicrafts and forestry, and Vietnam hopes for foreign investment.

In recent years, Vietnam has used some Western-style incentives. Some proved successful in agriculture, but others failed because of poor planning, the stubbornness of old-style bureaucrats and lack of resources.

An unprecedented amount of self-criticism preceded the party congress, ranging from corruption and policy blunders to the waste of aid from the Soviet Union, which provides an estimated $1 billion a year.

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