Supporters of Vietnam's prime minister have nominated him for a key Communist Party panel, a necessary step to contesting the post of the party chief, in a last-minute maneuver to secure the top job in the country.

Delegates at a Communist Party congress nominated Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to the Central Committee in what amounts to open defiance of the party chief, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who for years has been trying to sideline Dung.

His nomination was announced by Central Committee member Vu Ngoc Hoang, state-run newspaper Tuoi Tre reported Sunday.

The move was revealed during the ongoing party congress to choose the new general secretary and other leaders in the Politburo, the collective leadership that will govern Vietnam for the next five years.