Vietnam lawmakers clear way for top policeman to take presidency

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam's National Assembly said on Tuesday it will vote to dismiss To Lam from the post of Minister of Public Security, paving the way for him to be elected state president this week as part of a shakeup in the country's leadership.

To Lam, 66, has been nominated by a top committee of the ruling Communist Party to become president, one of the top four posts in Vietnam.

The assembly is due to vote on his candidacy as president on Wednesday.

The decision to dismiss him from the top police post had not initially been part of the schedule of the legislature.

Its secretary Bui Van Cuong had on Sunday said To Lam would stay on as minister, heading the country's powerful internal security agency, even after being elected president.

On Tuesday, he said the change in plan was "based on opinions from relevant authorities, the laws and on a proposal from the prime minister."

To Lam has been in the job since 2016, and in 2021 was admitted to the party's Politburo, the most powerful decision-making body in Vietnam.

He has been a key figure in an anti-graft crackdown, known as "blazing furnace", which is aimed at rooting out widespread corruption but has been seen also by critics as a tool to sideline opponents during political infighting.

The shakeup has since March seen the exit of three of Vietnam's top five leaders, after the house speaker, the president and a top politburo member resigned due to unspecified "wrongdoings".

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Martin Petty)