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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 May 2007, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Vietnam votes for fresh assembly
Communist Party chief Nong Duc Manh (right) votes in Hanoi
Nong Duc Manh cast his vote early in the day
Vietnam has been voting for new members to the National Assembly in an election unlikely to have much effect on the Communist government's policies.

The vast majority of the candidates are Communist Party members and the rest have been screened by the authorities.

The Communists are the only organised party taking part in the elections.

Although the Communists hold true power, our correspondent says the assembly has shown some independence in investigating laws and ministers.

More than 500 new deputies were being chosen from a field of almost 900 candidates, only 150 of whom were not ruling party members.

Communist Party head Nong Duc Manh voted early. It is compulsory for the 50m-strong electorate to cast their ballots.

Policeman looks at voting list in Hanoi
The 50m-strong electorate is obliged to turn out

The legislative assembly has made a priority of cracking down on corruption.

Its members have aggressively questioned government ministers and have scrutinised draft legislation prepared by government agencies.

The BBC's Bill Hayton says political reform in Vietnam, though slow, is likely to continue as long as it does not challenge the Communist Party.

Streets in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, were decked with campaign banners reminding the electorate of their duty to vote and exhorting them to pick candidates on the basis of their ethical qualities.

Results are expected to be announced in about 10 days' time.

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