Nguyen Van Dung, the country's most powerful young leader, has vowed the Communist Party will work to extend the 'democracy of the people'. Elaborating on Saturday's state-of-the-nation speech by party General Secretary Do Muoi, Mr Dung said the leadership had learned lessons from recent unrest in the poor northern province of Thai Binh. 'The most important message Do Muoi gave was that we must extend the democracy of the people through direct democracy,' Mr Dung said. 'The second message is to make the state apparatus transparent and powerful and push back all the social vices.' Mr Dung, 48, heads the party's economic commission and has been deputy interior minister. He is also a member of the Politburo's elite five-man standing board. He has considerable influence within the party and many believe he is being groomed for high office. A conservative and ultra-clean corruption fighter, he is expected to be named deputy prime minister this week under arch reformer Phan Van Khai during the new 12-day National Assembly session. Mr Khai is expected to replace outgoing Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet, while geologist Tran Duc Luong has been nominated by the party as a replacement for retiring President Le Duc Anh. Mr Dung's comments reflect a new desire by leaders such as Mr Muoi to extend the 'grassroots' links between the vast state and party machine and the people. 'Direct democracy' represents a push to create a more open bureaucracy and legal system in a bid to strengthen one-party rule, already enshrined in Vietnam's constitution after 10 years of fast growth and reform. The importance of a cleaner, more open system was highlighted during recent unrest in Thai Binh. The area was effectively sealed off as disgruntled retired soldiers and peasants rose up against corrupt local officials. 'What happened in Thai Binh was our internal affair,' Mr Dung said. 'Just like unhappy events that can happen between a married couple.'