Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang Dies At Age 61 After Prolonged Illness

| September 21 , 2018 , 14:40 IST

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

The Vietnamese president passed away from a "serious illness despite devoted treatment by professors and doctors" both in Vietnam and abroad, the official Vietnam News Agency said.

Quang had been President of Vietnam since April 2016 after spending more than 4 decades at the powerful Ministry of Public Security and was known as a tough leader with little tolerance for dissent.

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Despite holding one of the top 4 positions of the country and officially being the head of state, Quang's role as President was considered to be largely ceremonial, greeting visiting leaders and hosting diplomatic events in a bid to boost Vietnam's profile on the world stage.

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

In contrast to his reputation as tough and influential in the inner circles of the communist party, Quang, a member of the Politburo, often appeared uncomfortable in the public eye, and would read prepared scripts.

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During Tran Dai Quang's tenure as President, he oversaw a crackdown on dissidents that rights groups described as a chokehold on free expression, with more than 40 people being jailed this year itself.

His time in office was also marked with a simmering conflict with China over the disputed South China Sea, a long-running dispute between the communist nations that has escalated several times in the past. In a bid to quell tensions, Vietnam cancelled at least one oil drilling project in the resource-rich region during Quang's tenure.

While President Tran Dai Quang's role was mostly ceremonial, he was the government's most public face at high-profile events, including at the APEC meeting in Vietnam's Danang in November last year where he hosted world leaders including US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping.