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Vietnam's communist leaders have survived a first ever confidence vote, hailed as "historic" by the state press but dismissed as a sham by pro-democracy activists, official results showed Tuesday.
The vote, to be held every year, is seen by observers as an attempt by the authoritarian regime to ease growing public discontent over a lack of accountability and corruption in the one-party state.
All 47 officials secured the 50 percent support needed from members of the communist-controlled parliament in Monday's ballot to avoid possible future disciplinary measures.
But about one-third of lawmakers voiced "low confidence" in Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's premiership, which has been tainted by a string of corruption scandals and worries over his handling of the ailing economy.
The central bank governor received "low confidence" votes from more than 40 percent of lawmakers.
According to state media, officials who fail to win support from at least half of parliamentarians for two consecutive years may be forced to resign.
The vote was hailed as "historic" by the official Vietnam News Agency, but prominent pro-democracy campaigners dismissed the exercise as a charade.
Dissident Pham Hong Son, who spent five years in jail for his activism and is currently on hunger strike to support another detained activist, said the process lacked credibility.
"This is just new validation for the authoritarian regime -- a new cover for them. Ultimately, they are only doing this kind of thing to maintain the sole power of the Communist Party," he told AFP from his home in Hanoi.
Octogenarian activist Le Duc Hien agreed, saying the vote was "not objective because everything was decided in advance by the party".
Many observers had predicted that top officials would close ranks behind the scenes to support each other regardless of performance.
The Communist Party tightly controls public debate and routinely imprisons dissidents who question the political system or call for change.