Hu ally to head China's Organisation Department

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BEIJING, Oct 26 (Reuters) China has named Li Yuanchao, Communist Party boss in Jiangsu province, as head of the powerful Organisation Department, state media reported today, a move that strengthens President Hu Jintao's control over personnel.

The Party's Organisation Department is in charge of investigating candidates for appointments and promotions, giving it access to information on the careers of high-ranking officials and making it a nerve centre for political jockeying.

''It's a very powerful position,'' said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a Chinese politics specialist at Hong Kong Baptist University.

''It's also a delicate position. But he (Li) can do a lot.

And I'm sure he's going to help Hu Jintao to consolidate his power base within the leadership in promoting people,'' he said.

Li took the position from He Guoqiang, who was named earlier this week to the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee that rules China.

The head of the Organisation Department before He, Vice President Zeng Qinghong, was also a Politburo Standing Committee member, signalling that Li, 56, may yet rise to the Party's inner-most circle of power.

Li, a doctorate in law and seen as pro-business and experienced working with private enterprise, catapulted into the 25-member Politburo on Monday, following the close of the Party's five-yearly Congress.

He began his political rise in the Shanghai branch of the Communist Youth League, an organisation once headed by Hu and that is still seen as the president's power base.

Li moved on to the Youth League's secretariat in Beijing, where he worked briefly with Hu.

His elevation is a victory for Hu, who in his first five years in office was unable to fill the job with a Party member loyal to him.

''A number of Hu Jintao's people have been promoted to the Central Committee already, so that will go on,'' Cabestan said.

Delegates to the Party Congress, which closed on Sunday, said that Hu was the top vote-getter in tightly controlled internal Party elections for the 204-person Central Committee, winning all but two votes.

But a source said Hu got 100 percent of the votes for the Central Committee, Politburo and Standing Committee, the first time in more than a decade that has happened.

News of Hu's success in the vote was disseminated throughout the Party, the source said, apparently to dispel any doubts about Hu's strength at the helm of the new leadership team.

The new position means that Li will give up his job as Party boss of Jiangsu, a wealthy coastal province where he oversaw soaring economic development and attracted huge foreign investment. It is also Li's native province.

The province's governor, Liang Baohua, will take over the role, Xinhua said.

REUTERS ARB RN1126

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