BEIJING — After months of backroom political wrangling, the Chinese Communist Partyannounced late Friday that it would expel renegade Politburo member Bo Xilai and refer him for prosecution before the next party congress.
The 18th party congress, in which a new generation of leadership will be anointed, is to be pushed back to Nov. 8, a considerable delay given that preparations are already in place in Beijing for the meeting to take place in October.
The announcement made during the prime-time nightly news on Friday – on the eve of a week-long public holiday – provides a glimpse into the turmoil beneath the veneer of harmony and stability that the Communist Party is trying to project.
The harsh language suggests that the Chinese government will throw the book at Bo as far as criminal charges. Bo, 63, “received huge bribes personally and through his family…., and maintained improper sexual relationships with a number of women,’’ the government-controlled Xinhua news agency reported. He also was accused of involvement in covering up for his wife, Gu Kailai, who was convicted recently of murdering an Englishman, Neil Heywood, in a bizarre poisoning plot.
Bo’s behavior “badly undermined the reputation of the Party and the country, created very negative impact at home and abroad and significantly damaged the cause of the party and people,’’ the announcement read.