Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang dies after ‘serious illness’

Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang has died aged 61 after prolonged serious illness, according to state media.

Quang died in a military hospital in Hanoi on Friday from a “serious illness despite efforts by domestic and international doctors and professors”, Vietnam Television reported. 

Quang, one of the country’s top three leaders but with mostly ceremonial duties, hosted President Donald Trump during his first state visit to the communist country last year.

He had appeared thin and pale in public, and was unstable on his feet last week when he hosted a welcoming ceremony for Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Hanoi.

Quang’s last public appearance was at a Politburo meeting of the ruling Communist Party and a reception for a Chinese delegation on Wednesday.

Tough leader

Originally from a small farming community 115 km south of Hanoi, Quang rose through party ranks to become a police general and member of Vietnam’s powerful decision-making Politburo.

Quang was elected president in April 2016 with a reputation of being a tough leader with little tolerance for dissent.

He often appeared uncomfortable in the public eye and lacked the charisma of some of his peers in the upper echelons of the party.

In an interview with AFP news agency in 2016 ahead of a visit by the former French leader Francois Hollande, Quang read from a prepared statement and was quickly escorted from the room by staff when a question went off-script.

“We are saddened to hear the news that the president has died,” said Bui Duc Phi, chairman of the village in which Quang was born.

Vietnam has no paramount ruler and is officially led by the president, prime minister and Communist Party chief.

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