Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong speaks during the opening ceremony of the 12th National Congress of Vietnam's Communist Party in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, Jan. 21, 2015. (Kham/Pool Photo via AP)
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Vietnam's ruling Communist Party began an eight-day congress Thursday that starts an orchestrated transfer of power to new leaders who will face myriad challenges including economic reforms, corruption and maritime aggression from China.The most crucial position is general secretary, the de facto No. 1 leader of the country, although Vietnam professes a collective leadership through a Politburo that handles day to day affairs, and a larger Central Committee that meets twice a year to decide policy.However, it became clear Wednesday that Trong had sidelined Dung when a preparatory meeting agreed to continue with a controversial 2014 rule barring all but officially nominated candidates from consideration, with no new nominations allowed from the congress floor. Trong was endorsed as the general secretary candidate earlier this month.But the two camps are believed to have reached a compromise under which Trong would stay as general secretary for two years instead of five, and a Dung supporter would become the chairman of the National Assembly. The country's three other top leaders -- prime minister, president and National Assembly chairman -- would be named at the congress, but their actual selection will be done by the National Assembly, which itself is elected about six months after the Congress.
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