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Viet President Gains Control as Party Chief

July 14, 1986|United Press International

BANGKOK, Thailand — President Truong Chinh was elected leader of Vietnam's Communist Party today, Radio Hanoi said, making him the most powerful man in the country since the death of Ho Chi Minh.

The selection of Chinh, 79, a political survivor known as a conservative Marxist ideologue, comes four days after the death of his longtime rival, Le Duan, and indicated a desire for continuity among the party's aging leadership, the radio said.

The radio gave a long resume of Chinh's career, beginning with his role in founding the party. It passed over his party activities for the 16 years after 1956, when he was sacked from his post as general secretary to take the blame for popular uprisings against his collectivization policies.

Chinh was replaced then by Le Duan, a former rival, who held the general secretary post until his death on Thursday.

Chinh survived another party purge in 1976, when Vietnam split from China and axed many pro-China party members.

President in 1981

Chinh, who spent some of his early revolutionary career in China and was known as an admirer of Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-tung, recovered from his twin disgraces to become president and head of state in 1981.

His latest promotion combines the top posts in the party and the state for first time since the death of Ho Chi Minh in 1969.

The posts make him the most powerful man in Vietnam, edging ahead of Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, who has often expressed a desire to retire.

His promotion appeared to be a defeat for Vietnamese leaders trying to reform the country's rigidly controlled economic system.

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