HANOI • Lawmakers in communist Vietnam approved a top police general for the role of president yesterday, making the head of a controversial domestic security force one of the country's most high-profile politicians.
Mr Tran Dai Quang, 59, won 91.5 per cent of the votes during a ballot at the rubber-stamp parliament, having been nominated by party officials for the largely ceremonial role during the five-yearly Communist Party Congress in January.
Vietnam is in the midst of a leadership handover, with communist leader Nguyen Phu Trong re-elected in January as party secretary-general in a victory for the party's old guard.
One of President Quang's first duties will be to receive his American counterpart Barack Obama, as Hanoi seeks closer ties with Washington in the face of China's rising assertiveness in the contested South China Sea.
"I sincerely thank the National Assembly for electing me," Mr Quang said as he was sworn in, according to a media officer at Parliament.
Authoritarian Vietnam is run by the Communist Party and officially led by a triumvirate of party secretary-general, president and prime minister, with key decisions being made by the 19-member politburo.
Reformist Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is due to step down this week, when the National Assembly will vote on his replacement.