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Vietnam’s president back in action after illness

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Vietnam's President Nguyen Phu Trong delivers a speech after being elected as the Vietnamese President in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, on Oct. 23, 2018. Xinhua/VNA

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam’s president has appeared in public after a month-long absence for health reasons that prompted speculation about succession plans in the communist country, with no clear replacement lined up.

Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also the head of the communist party, was last seen in public on his 75th birthday on April 14 meeting with officials and shrimp farmers in southern Kien Giang province.

Rumours quickly swirled that he had fallen gravely ill, and the government confirmed 11 days later he was not well but would return to work “soon”.

He appeared in public on Tuesday alongside senior party leaders in Hanoi, according to the official Vietnam News Agency, which also ran pictures of the white-haired leader in a collared t-shirt.

VNA said he chaired a meeting and “stressed… the need to continue the fight against corruption”.

Trong has forged a reputation as a no-nonsense leader by waging an anti-corruption campaign that has seen dozens jailed, including top executives and officials otherwise thought to be untouchable.

The longtime communist party member became president last year after the former head of state died following a long illness.

The communist party’s central committee is set to hold a regular meeting later this week, which Trong is expected to chair.

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