Vietnam has its first female president with the appointment of Vice-President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh after Tran Dai Quang died Friday from a serious illness.

Thinh will be the acting president until the National Assembly elects a new leader, according to a statement on the government website, which cited parliament chairwoman Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh. Thinh has been vice-president since April 2016.

Vietnam will hold a two-day national mourning period September 26-27 in honour of Quang, who will be buried in his home village in northern Ninh Binh province on Thursday.

State media quoted a government doctor as saying he died due to a rare virus but the reports did not identify it.

He is one of the few sitting presidents to die in office. The last was Ho Chi Minh, the communist revolutionary and Vietnam’s independence hero, who died as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s first president in 1969.

The powers and role of the presidency has varied since.

Quang, who was 61, was one of the country’s top four leaders, along with the general secretary of the Communist Party, prime minister and head of the National Assembly.

A career security officer, Quang rose through the ranks to be minister of public security in 2011 and was elected by the National Assembly as the nation’s president in April 2016.

Under Vietnam’s constitution, the vice-president becomes acting president if the president dies in office until the National Assembly chooses a permanent replacement.

The parliament’s second one-month session of the year opens October 22. The government’s economic policies, which include aggressively seeking trade agreements, are expected to continue.

World leaders sent condolences after Quang’s death.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Quang was “close comrade and friend of the Chinese people”.

US President Donald Trump, with whom Quang hosted his first state visit to the communist country last year, called him a “great friend of the United States”.

Bloomberg - September 24, 2018