The suspense over the fate of disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai has been prolonged yet again, with the ousted Chongqing party chief not being stripped of his seat in the country's top legislature as expected yesterday.
No request for terminating Bo's membership of the National People's Congress had been received by its Standing Committee at the end of the committee's five-day session yesterday, a spokesman for the national legislature confirmed.
That came as a surprise to many who had expected that Bo would be kicked out of the NPC this week - a symbolic start for Beijing in wrapping up the worst political scandal to rock the country in decades.
Chen Ziming , a Beijing-based political analyst, said the delaying of Bo's removal from the NPC could be an effort by the top leadership to leave the announcement of high-stakes decisions on Bo to the next gathering of the Communist Party's elite Central Committee. "Apparently, Beijing wants to seek consensus within the party's top echelon of power on how to handle Bo at the next plenum, to be held shortly before the opening of the 18th party congress," he said.
Hong Kong-based China observer Johnny Lau Yui-siu also said the public would have to wait until the next plenum, rumoured to be scheduled for late this month or early next, to learn Beijing's verdict on Bo.
"Although Bo's fate must have been decided [at the secretive party conclave in Beidaihe this summer], it seems Beijing wants to adopt those decisions inside the party before embarking on procedures to incriminate him politically first and then to possibly convict him."
Despite the delay in Bo's dismissal from the NPC, analysts said the once high-profile princeling-politician had little chance to save his political career or stage a comeback any time soon.
Bo, who was sacked in March and then suspended from the Politburo in April after his wife, Gu Kailai , was found to have been involved in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in Chongqing in November, has been under investigation but has so far been accused only of unspecified violations of party discipline.
Rumours have been rife about Bo's fate, especially after Gu was given a suspended death sentence in Hefei last month for Heywood's murder.
Professor Zhang Ming , of Beijing's Renmin University, said the highly charged trial of Bo's top aide and former police chief in Chongqing, Wang Lijun , which is rumoured to have been delayed several times, may also shed light on Bo's fate. Wang exposed the murder allegations after making a failed attempt to seek asylum at the United States consulate in Chengdu in February.
Analysts said that as long as the seventh and last plenum of the incumbent Central Committee reached a verdict on Bo, the party's national congress and the generational leadership succession were unlikely to be affected.