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January 13, 2003

Vietnam to tighten protest rules

(BBC News) - The Vietnamese government says it plans to issue a decree to tighten controls on public demonstrations.

The authorities say the aim is to prevent violence breaking out at some protests.

The chairman of the Government Office, minister Doan Manh Giao, told the state-run Lao Dong newspaper that a decree would be issued, ahead of a new law on demonstrations and public gatherings, as the law-making process may take some time.

It is expected to provide clearer guidance on the rules governing the organisation and conduct of public gatherings.

There has been an increasing number of demonstrations over land expropriation and corruption in rural areas.

Mr Giao criticised these protests as abusing democratic rights and urged that those taking part be severely punished.

Correspondents say the government hopes the decree will help prevent violent protests such as one last November when eight policemen in the northern province of Ha Tay were injured in clashes with local demonstrators.

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