Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang dead at 61 due to illness

Leroy Wright
September 21, 2018

President of Vietnam Tran Dai Quang died on Friday at the age of 61 years after a prolonged and serious illness, state media reported.

Vietnam Television reported he suffered from a "serious illness despite efforts by domestic and global doctors and professors".

Mr. Quang died at a military hospital in Hanoi; the statement didn't elaborate on his illness.

Rumours of his illness had circulated on social media for months, and there was no significant reaction in Vietnam's benchmark index.VNI.

Vietnam has no paramount ruler and is officially led by the president, prime minister and Communist Party chief. "However, there are no medicines in the world that can cure the illness completely, instead it only could prevent and push it back for some time".

Quang, a member of the Politburo, had a reputation as tough and influential in the inner circles of the communist party, though often appeared uncomfortable in the public eye and lacked the charisma of some of his peers in the upper echelons of the party.

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At an APEC meeting in Danang in November past year, he hosted a group of world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping.

Adam Sitkoff, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi, said: "He was the first Vietnam president to meet with us, speak at a US-Vietnam business summit". Some 100 political prisoners were behind bars as of April with more than 40 jailed this year alone, according to Amnesty International.

His last public appearance was at a Politburo meeting of the ruling Communist Party and a reception for a Chinese delegation on Wednesday. He looked frail on the state-run Vietnam Television broadcast.

Before that, he had served as Minister of Public Security, an organisation with broad powers and a remit that includes intelligence gathering and thwarting domestic and foreign threats to the party.

"Vice president Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh will handle his duties until the National Assembly elects a new president", said prominent lawyer Tran Vu Hai.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

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