Vietnam’s President Quang dies after ‘serious illness’

Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang was appointed to the role in April, 2016. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2018

Vietnam’s President Quang dies after ‘serious illness’

  • Vietnam has no paramount ruler and is officially led by the president, prime minister and Communist Party chief
  • Rumors of Quang’s illness had been swirling on social media for months

HANOI: Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang, one of the country’s top three leaders but with mostly ceremonial duties, died on Friday after an illness, state television and radio announced.
Quang, 61, died in a military hospital in Hanoi from a “serious illness despite efforts by domestic and international doctors and professors,” Vietnam Television reported.
Vietnam has no paramount ruler and is officially led by the president, prime minister and Communist Party chief. Experts say the presidency is largely ceremonial.
Quang was appointed to the role in April, 2016. Before that, he had served as Minister of Public Security, an organization with broad powers and a remit that includes intelligence gathering and thwarting domestic and foreign threats to the party.
Originally from a small farming community 115 kilometers south of Hanoi, Quang rose through party ranks to become a police general and member of Vietnam’s powerful decision-making Politburo.
“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.

Rumors of Quang’s illness had been swirling on social media for months.
At one of his last appearances, during a visit by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Hanoi on September 11, Quang appeared visibly unwell and stumbled as he stepped onto a platform to inspect a guard of honor.
State-owned newspaper Vietnam News said Quang hosted a reception for China’s Supreme Court chief in Hanoi on Wednesday.


Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

Updated 49 min 30 sec ago

Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

  • “The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The mayor of Italy’s Lampedusa island on Thursday denounced the collapsing government for its failure to deal with migrant rescue boats, as a ship carrying 356 people remained stranded in the Mediterranean.
Mayor Salvatore Martello said the reception center on the tiny isle was already over capacity and would struggle to house migrants currently stuck aboard the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking.
The vessel, run by charities Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, has sought a port for almost two weeks after rescuing four boats of migrants off the Libyan coast between 9 and 12 August.
“It would be difficult because the reception center is saturated,” Martello told AFP.
“The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”
Lampedusa has long been a magnet for African migrants fleeing poverty and conflict.
Thousands have attempted to make the unsafe crossing from Libya in a bid to reach Europe this year, despite efforts to deter them.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been accused of demonizing migrants and leaving them to drown in the sea.
He has repeatedly insisted that rescued migrants can only land in Italy if other EU countries take them in.
Italy’s president on Thursday was holding a second day of talks after the disintegration of the anti-immigrant coalition government, which broke down after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday.
The plight of the migrants aboard the Ocean Viking, which was denied entry by both Italy and Malta, is the latest in a string of migrant boat standoffs with Italian authorities.
The Open Arms rescue ship was allowed to land in Lampedusa on Wednesday, with 83 migrants disembarking, after Italian justice ordered they be brought ashore.
Many of them had spent 19 days on board the ship after being picked up while in difficulty in waters off Libya.
There were initially 147 mainly African migrants on the ship but all minors and some suffering health problems had already disembarked.
A European deal to redistribute them has yet to be implemented.