Mourners pay tribute at funeral of Vietnam’s late president
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam’s late President Tran Dai Quang was mourned as a great loss and praised for his contributions to his country at his funeral Wednesday.
Long lines of family members, officials including General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, police and soldiers streamed through the National Funeral House in downtown Hanoi. Some wept as they passed his flag-draped coffin.
“He devoted his whole life and made numerous contributions to the country’s glorious revolutionary cause ... His passing is a great loss to our Party, State and people,” Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh said in a prayer ceremony broadcast live on state television.
Quang died Friday at age 61. A government doctor said he had battled a rare viral illness for more than a year but did not reveal the virus.
“I think Vietnamese people from ordinary people have great respect for him,” retired teacher Nguyen Thi Huan, 64, said outside the funeral house. “Some people felt like they lost their loved ones when they learnt of his passing.”
For retired police colonel Tran Duc Thang who had known Quang for 38 years, Quang was an “affectional comrade in arms.”
“His passing is a great loss to the state, family and his comrades in arms,” he said after paying tribute to Quang. “I hope he will rest in peace and wish that he from his world will continue to bless and support the country’s development.”
He will be buried in his home village in northern Ninh Binh province Thursday.
Flags fly at half-staff and all entertainment activities are cancelled during the two-day national mourning.
A career security officer, Quang rose through the ranks to be minister of public security in 2011 and was elected by the National Assembly as the nation’s president in April 2016.
Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh has been named acting president, the country’s first woman to hold that position. No date has been given for the election of a new president.
The country’s other top leaders are Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. Analysts say Quang’s death is unlikely to shake up the Communist country’s politics, which are led collectively.