Former Communist Party star Bo Xilai has been expelled from the party and will face multiple criminal charges, the official Xinhua newswire says.
The announcement comes just weeks before a key meeting that will see a new generation of Chinese leaders, headed by Vice-President Xi Jinping, take power from President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. The 10-day National Congress of the Communist Party will begin Nov. 8, Xinhua also reported Friday.
The fact the two announcements came together likely means broad agreement has been reached between quarreling factions over how the Communist Party should proceed through the sensitive transition period. The fate of Mr. Bo was seen as intertwined with arguments over who should be named to the incoming Standing Committee of the Politburo, the nine-member grouping that is the apex of power in the country.
Until his detention in March, Mr. Bo – a party "princeling" whose father was a famous revolutionary – was Communist Party boss of the southwestern city of Chongqing, and seen as a favourite for promotion to the next Standing Committee.
His downfall began when his longtime police chief, Wang Lijun entered a U.S. consulate in February and tried to defect, telling tales of murder and corruption under Mr. Bo’s rule in Chongqing.
Mr. Wang was sentenced on Monday to 15 years in prison for bribe-taking, abuse of power and attempting to defect. In August, Mr. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, plead guilty to murdering a British businessman, and received a suspended death sentence.
Now, it's Mr. Bo's turn. Xinhua said he will face charges for abuse of power, bribe-taking and "illicit relationships with numerous females."
The charges were portrayed as part of an effort to crack down on corruption inside the Communist Party, which has become a lightning rod for public discontent. "No corrupt elements will escape discipline from the party and state legal system," Xinhua said. Mr. Bo was accused of actions that "severely damaged the reputation of the party and the country and had an extremely negative influence domestically and abroad."
The charges, were announced at the end of a Politburo meeting chaired by Mr. Hu. Mr. Bo was a member of the 25-person Politburo until his membership was suspended in the spring.
"Investigations show that Mr. Bo had seriously violated party discipline ... abused his power, committed grave mistakes and should be held responsible for the Wang Lijun case as well as Ms. Gu’s murder case," Xinhua said.
It was the first direct mention of Mr. Bo’s name in state media in several months. His name was not directly mentioned in either Mr. Wang’s trial, or that of his wife.