State funeral, national mourning to be held for Vietnam president

HANOI: Vietnam on Sunday announced a state funeral and two days of national mourning for president Tran Dai Quang, who died on Friday aged 61.
Flags will be flown at half-mast and entertainment venues shut for two days starting on September 26, when Quang’s body will lie in state in Hanoi before being buried in his home town in Ninh Binh province the next day.
“His passing away is a great loss for our party, state and people,” the Communist Party of Vietnam said in a statement on Sunday, adding that the funeral would be broadcast live.
Condolences have poured in from across geopolitical divides, with Cuba announcing its own mourning period and US President Donald Trump calling him a “great friend of the United States” in a statement on Friday.
The leaders of Cambodia and China also sent tributes, even though Quang’s time in office since 2016 was marked by tensions with Beijing over disputed waterways in the South China Sea.
The cause of death was identified in state media as a “rare virus” though no further details were provided.
Vice-President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh will take over as head of state — the first female in the position — until a replacement is decided by lawmakers at an unspecified date.
Quang, a former police chief and communist party stalwart, spent more than four decades as an intelligence official and most recently threw his weight behind a crackdown on dissent and corruption which critics say was aimed at rivals.
Though he was a member of the powerful politburo, his role was largely ceremonial. — AFP