Bo Xilai

Bo allies make shortlist for party congress

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2012, 12:00am


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Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan and several top officials who once worked closely with ousted party boss Bo Xilai are among the 50 people on the municipality's delegate shortlist for the Communist Party congress later this year.

The list won't be finalised until Chongqing's party congress next month but analysts said the inclusion of the officials in the final vetting process was a sign that they would likely survive the Bo scandal unscathed.

As expected, Bo was not on the list in yesterday's Chongqing Daily. Bo was suspended from the party's elite Politburo and is being investigated by the party's top disciplinary agency.

The announcement coincided with a South China Morning Post report that Huang, once closely allied with Bo, challenged the then party chief over his sacking of former police chief Wang Lijun .

After his sacking ,Wang sought refuge at the US consulate in Chengdu and spoke to the party's top anti-graft watchdog about his former boss, triggering Bo's removal and one of the most wide-reaching political scandals on the mainland in decades.

Also absent from the list are Chongqing's new party boss, Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, and the city's new police chief and vice-mayor, He Ting. But Zhang is also a Politburo member and Beijing could arrange for him to be elected a congress delegate by a different province or municipality.

Beijing-based political analyst Chen Ziming said this had been the case in the past for sitting Politburo members. This was also the case for security tsar and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, who was rumoured to have been sidelined because of his links to the Bo scandal. Zhou was a Hebei delegate at the last party congress but is representing Xinjiang this year.

Chen said Zhang's absence from the shortlist could be a sign that his tenure in the municipality, which started in March, would not last long.

Zhang has been widely tipped for promotion in this year's leadership reshuffle, and his post may be filled soon by Shandong party chief Jiang Yikang or Hunan party boss Zhou Qiang.

Local media reported last month that Chongqing's party congress had been put off until June, raising speculation the delay was due to political jockeying for the top party job and the fallout from the Bo scandal.

Not all senior party and government officials were on the shortlist - six of the 13 local party standing committee members were left off as were five of the seven vice-mayors.

'Given the limited seats and wide range of selection criteria ... whether they are included should not be seen as a key indicator of officials' political futures,' Chen said.

One of the most controversial candidates on the shortlist is prosecutor Yao Ning, known for aiding Bo in his ruthless prosecution of former Chongqing justice chief Wen Qiang and the purging of Beijing lawyer Li Zhuang, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Li said on his microblog that he did not think Yao would pass the strict public vetting process.