HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam’s President will “soon resume” work, a spokeswoman said yesterday, after the 75-year-old leader vanished from public view amid swirling speculation he fell ill earlier this month.
The sudden disappearance of hardline leader and Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong sparked concerns of a power vacuum in the one-party state, with no immediately obvious successor in place if he was no longer able to govern.
But observers said even if there was political jockeying for his job, the party’s firm grip on power would not likely be shaken.
Trong was last seen in public on his 75th birthday on April 14, meeting with officials in southern Kien Giang province.
“Trong’s health has been affected by the high intensity of his workload and weather,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters yesterday, without elaborating.
“He will soon resume his normal duties,” she added.
Sources have confirmed to AFP that the President fell gravely ill in Kien Giang and was later seen by doctors, but did not offer details due to the sensitivity of the matter. His current condition is not clear.
On April 13 Trong was photographed visiting a shrimp farm in the sweltering heat and was also seen in a cooled processing plant at the same site.
Social media went into overdrive speculating on the health of the white-haired statesman while state media remained tight-lipped on his condition, reporting only on his written correspondence in the days since he was last seen.