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Vietnam votes in new national assembly

A Vietnamese voter casts her ballot in Sunday's National Assembly elections
A Vietnamese voter casts her ballot in Sunday's National Assembly elections  


HANOI, Vietnam (CNN) -- Vietnam's government says nearly all the country's eligible voters have cast ballots in the latest elections.

Voting, which is mandatory for all citizens over 18, took place Sunday for a new national assembly.

All 759 candidates, bidding for the assembly's 498 seats, were approved by the Fatherland Front, a group commissioned by the ruling communist party.

The new assembly will finish revamping the legal system in an effort to bring greater transparency to government.

Officials say the changes are intended to help Vietnam join the World Trade Organization as well as bring the legal system into compliance with a historic trade pact with the United States that took effect in December.

This year, the number of non-Communist party candidates has risen to 135, up from 112 in the last election five years ago. Thirteen candidates are "self-nominated" -- Vietnam refuses to use the term independent.

In a sign that the party has accepted a need for more business representation, 14 candidates were entrepreneurs; two members of the previous assembly were private businessmen.

While the assembly has achieved some independence in recent years -- sessions in which government ministers are queried are broadcast live on television -- its powers remain tightly constrained and most bills are still written by government agencies.

The results of the election are expected by next week.



 
 
 
 






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