A senior official who is the de facto number two of the Communist Party has retired early from two top positions following a meeting last Friday.

Politburo member Dinh The Huynh has left his positions as executive secretary of the Party's Secretariat and chairman of the Party's Central Theoretical Council, both for the 2016-2021 term.

The Politburo, the Party's decision-making body, approved Huynh's replacements in order for him to focus on receiving long-term medical treatment.

Tran Quoc Vuong, another Politburo and Secretariat member and chairman of the Central Inspection Commission, has replaced Huynh as the Secretariat's new executive secretary.

Secretariat member Nguyen Xuan Thang, director of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and vice chairman of the Central Theoretical Council, has also been appointed as the new chairman of the council.

Vuong, 65, is from the northern province of Thai Binh. Between 2007 and 2011, he served as head of the Supreme People's Procuracy before being appointed chief of the Party's Central Committee Office in July 2011.

Vuong was elected into the Secretariat in May 2013 and the Politburo in January 2016. He has been serving as the Secretariat's acting executive secretary since last August while Huynh, 64, was receiving treatment for his health issues.

Thang, 61, hails from the central province of Nghe An. He obtained a PhD in economics at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of World Economy and International Relations before returning to Vietnam in 1995.

Following his return, Thang was given key positions in the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of World Economics and Politics before eventually becoming the academy's chairman in 2011. He moved to work as director of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics in 2016, and was elected into the Secretariat last October.

Last week, Vietnam announced plans that will require top-ranking officials to undergo health checks every six months.

Officials with medical conditions will be monitored by a special Party unit, according to the plan revealed by the Politburo on Thursday.

Their results will play a key factor in deciding if officials should continue serving in office. Candidates for key government positions will also have to go through the protocol, it said.

By Xuan Hoa - VnExpress.net - March 5, 2018