Lê Đức Anh

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Le Duc Anh
5th President of Vietnam
In office
24 September 1992 – 24 September 1997
Prime Minister Võ Văn Kiệt
Vice President Nguyễn Thị Bình
General Secretary Đỗ Mười
Preceded by Võ Chí Công
Succeeded by Trần Đức Lương
Minister of Defence
In office
February 1987 – August 1991
Preceded by Văn Tiến Dũng
Succeeded by Đoàn Khuê
Member of the Politburo
In office
31 March 1982 – 29 December 1997
Personal details
Born (1920-12-01) 1 December 1920 (age 98)
Thừa Thiên–Huế Province
Political party Communist Party of Vietnam
Awards Gold Star Order (Vietnam)Ho Chi Minh OrderMilitary Exploit Order

Lê Đức Anh (born 1 December 1920) is a Vietnamese general and politician who was President of Vietnam from 1992 to 1997. He previously led the Vietnamese forces in Cambodia throughout the 1980s. He was regarded as a conservative[1] who advocated maintaining tight party control over domestic policies.

Military career

He was born in Phú Lộc District, Thừa Thiên–Huế Province. In August 1945, he joined the army. From October 1948 to 1950, he was chief of staff of the 7th Military Region, 8th Military Region and administrative region of Sai GonCho Lon. From 1951 to 1954, served as Deputy Chief of Staff, acting Chief of Staff of Cochinchina. From August 1963, he served as Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army. February 1964, to the South Vietnam, position of Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the People's Liberation Armed Force (Vietcong).

As a general Anh was the commander of the Vietnamese forces in the People's Republic of Kampuchea in the 1980s.[2] He formulated five key points for the defence of Cambodia against Khmer Rouge re-infiltration and was the architect of the unpopular K5 Plan.[3]

Political career

Later he entered politics and he held a succession of government posts. During his time as Defence Minister General he was already a major conservative voice in Vietnam's political system. In 1989, after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, he warned about the alleged threat of the West undermining Vietnam's Communist Party, arguing for more army involvement in politics "at a time when Vietnamese socialism was under attack".[4]

From 1991 (to 1993) Anh controlled Vietnamese policy towards Cambodia and China at the expense of foreign minister Nguyễn Cơ Thạch and therefore was involved in the normalisation of Vietnam's relations with China in November 1991.[5] He was the first Vietnamese president to visit Beijing in 38 years since an official visit in November 1993 to discuss economic relations and territorial disputes in the South China Sea; however, consensus was achieved only on the former issue.[6]


In September 1992 he was elected to the new post of state president, replacing a collective presidency. Although a mostly symbolic position, the presidency became much more important during his tenure.[1]

Anh is considered by many to have been (ideologically) the most conservative among the three political leaders during his tenure.[1] Prime Minister Võ Văn Kiệt was associated with the reform camp[7] and therefore often disagreed with Anh. Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Vietnam Đỗ Mười was ideologically more flexible and effectively came to be seen as representing the middle ground between Anh and Kiệt, but seems to have tended towards conservative positions.[8]

His opposition to Kiệt's reform ambitions are part of a long-lasting rivalry. In 1991, Anh joined Đỗ Mười to support him in his candidacy for party leadership against Võ Văn Kiệt.[9] The Kiệt camp later spread rumours about wrongdoings Anh was said to be involved in Cambodia.[9]


In mid-November 1996, he was hospitalized after a major stroke.[10] This was at a time when the reform camp that he opposed was in decline and for some time his illness seemed to change the dynamics within the political leadership, weakening the conservative camp and reinvigorating the reform camp.[9] However, Party leader Đỗ Mười led a counter-attack against the reform camp, warning of the dangers of the 'current market economy'. The conservative camp gained further momentum when Anh surprisingly recovered in April 1997.[9] He stepped down as president in September 1997 after the Communist Party Congress and was replaced by Trần Đức Lương. He was an Advisor of the Party's Central Committee from December 1997 – 2001.[citation needed]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bolton 1999, 176
  2. Slocomb, Margaret: "The People's Republic of Kampuchea, 1979-1989: The revolution after Pol Pot" ISBN 978-974-9575-34-5
  3. Luciolli, Esmeralda: "Le mur de bambou, ou le Cambodge après Pol Pot." (French)
  4. Thayer 1999, p. 14
  5. Wurfel 1999, 150
  6. Wurfel 1999, p. 152
  7. Bolton 1999, p. 182
  8. Bolton 1999, 182-83
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Bolton 1999, 187
  10. Mydans, Seth (20 December 1996). "Domino Effect at the Top Is Looming for Vietnam". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Bolton, Kent (1999): "Domestic Sources of Vietnam's Foreign Policy: Normalizing Relations with the United States". in Thayer, Carlyle A., Amer, Ramses (ed.): Vietnamese Foreign Policy in Transition. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
  • Thayer, Carlyle A. (1999): "Vietnamese Foreign Policy: Multilateralism and the Threat of Peaceful Evolution". in Thayer, Carlyle A., Amer, Ramses (1999): Vietnamese Foreign Policy in Transition. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
  • Wurfel, David (1999): "Between China and ASEAN: The Dialectics of Recent Vietnamese Foreign Policy". in Thayer, Carlyle A., Amer, Ramses (ed.): Vietnamese Foreign Policy in Transition. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
Political offices
Preceded by
Võ Chí Công
President of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Trần Đức Lương