Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang died on Friday aged 61 at a military hospital in the capital Hanoi following a period of illness, state media said.
Quang was appointed president, a largely ceremonial role, in April 2016, and served alongside Vietnam’s de facto leader Communist Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
Before that he served as minister of public security.
As president, Quang was reputed to be tough on dissent, with his government overseeing a crackdown on rights groups.
“President Quang’s legacy is a multi-year crackdown on human rights and putting more political prisoners behind bars in Vietnam than any time in recent memory,” said Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director, Human Rights Watch.
“More than anyone else, he’s responsible for the ministry of public security’s expansion into all aspects of daily Vietnamese life, bringing all the rights abuses, corruption and extortion that come with increased police presence,” he added.
Quang was promoted through the Communist party’s ranks, rising to become a police general and member of the politburo.
At an APEC meeting in Danang in November last year, he hosted a group of world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.