Vietnam is holding two-day state funeral for General Vo Nguyen Giap, the commander credited with overseeing the defeat of French and US forces in his country.
General Vo Nguyen Giap died a week ago at the age of 102.
Hundreds of thousands of people have paid their respects at General Vo Nguyen Giap’s Hanoi home, where he is lying in state, and at military centres across Vietnam.
On Sunday, a grand procession will escort the general’s body to his home town in Quang Binh province for burial.
A photograph of General Vo Nguyen Giap and a gilt frame containing his military medals were placed above the coffin which was draped in the national flag at the National Funeral Hall in Hanoi.
Soldiers in white uniforms stood to attention as officials, including PM Nguyen Tan Dung and President Truong Tan Sang, paid their last respects.
Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap’s family, wearing black, stood nearby while thick clouds of incense filled the room where his body lay in state.
On Friday, the Vietnamese flag outside Hanoi’s Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was lowered to half-mast to mark the start of the official mourning period.
The son of a rice grower, Vo Nguyen Giap became active in politics in the late 1920s and worked as a journalist before joining Ho Chi Minh’s Indochinese Communist Party.
In 1930 Vo Nguyen Giap was briefly jailed for leading anti-French protests but later earned a law degree from Hanoi University.
He helped Ho Chi Minh found the Viet Minh and his defeat of French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 effectively ended French colonial rule in the region.
Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap was North Vietnam’s defense minister at the time of the Tet Offensive against US forces in 1968, often cited as a key campaign that led to the Americans’ withdrawal.
It has been more than 30 years since Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap held any position of power within the Vietnamese Communist Party.
The Communist Party would like Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap’s death to remind the Vietnamese of its role in fighting for national liberation, he adds, but it will also bring home to many just how far a party tainted by corruption and nepotism has fallen from the ideals it once espoused.Communist Party of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam War, Vo Nguyen Giap