Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong takes his oath of office after being elected as Vietnam's president during a National Assembly session in Hanoi, Vietnam, October 23 2018. Picture: REUTERS/Kham
Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong takes his oath of office after being elected as Vietnam's president during a National Assembly session in Hanoi, Vietnam, October 23 2018. Picture: REUTERS/Kham

Vietnam legislators on Tuesday elected as president Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, the only candidate on the ballot, making him the most powerful man in the country where consensus leadership has traditionally kept strongman rule in check.

Trong was ushered into his new role as head of state with 99.8% of the vote from Vietnam’s rubber-stamp parliament members a month after the former president died from a prolonged illness. Though the president’s role is seen as largely ceremonial, 74-year-old Trong will continue to be party head – the first person to hold both roles since revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh in the late 1960s.

His new position was cemented in a tightly orchestrated swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday after an overwhelming vote from 477 MPs, with only one vote against, according to the government’s website.

"I, president of Vietnam, vow to be completely loyal to the nation, people and constitution," Trong said at the ceremony, speaking beneath a large bust of Ho Chi Minh.

"This is a very huge honour, while at the same time, a very heavy responsibility for me,"
he said, acknowledging his advanced age.

His election comes as no surprise after the Communist Party’s central committee put his name forward as the only contender following the death of Tran Dai Quang, a former police chief who had been president since 2016.

In addition to running the party, as president, Trong will now be in charge of welcoming foreign delegates and travelling abroad as the public face of the administration. AFP

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