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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
Vietnam celebrates independence
Vietnamese performers dance in front of former communist leader Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum during the 60th anniversary parade celebrating Vietnam's independence on Friday Sept. 2, 2005 in Hanoi.
Some 13,000 people participated in the festivities
Vietnam's president has called on the nation to work for greater prosperity on the 60th anniversary of the nation's declaration of independence.

Tran Duc Luong told a rally in Hanoi that the birth of a new Vietnam had been a historic milestone shattering 50 years of cruel colonial rule.

The authorities have released more than 10,000 prisoners to mark the day.

Thousands of people attended the rally, held in the square where Ho Chi Minh declared independence in 1945.

It took another three decades before Vietnam became a fully unified and independent state.

"Vietnam remains an underdeveloped economy with a high poverty incidence," Mr Luong said, declaring that the "party, people and army will continue to stand united and... turn Vietnam into a developed country in the coming decades."

Our lives are now much better, but Vietnam remains a very poor country, we need to work much harder
Le Tuyet Minh, 82

He added that "red tape, extravagance, unaccountability... are still rampant" and that "corruption and some other social evils are grave concerns for the whole of society."

But despite the concerns raised in Mr Luong's speech, 82-year-old Le Tuyet Minh, who also listened to former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh declare independence 60 years ago, declared himself "very moved".

"Our lives are now much better, but Vietnam remains a very poor country, we need to work much harder," he told the Associated Press.

Vietnam's Vice Foreign Minister, Le Van Bang, said Vietnam would release 21 foreigners, including four US nationals, among more than 10,400 prisoners to be given amnesty to mark the day.

Ho Chi Minh declared independence on 2 September, 1945, the same day that Japan formally surrendered in World War II. The declaration ended 80 years of French and then Japanese colonial rule, but it did not bring peace to Vietnam.

Several months later, the French returned and eight years of war ensued, followed by a long bloody conflict with the Americans which ended 30 years ago.



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