Vietnam Mourns Death of Reformist Leader

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June 16- The country held a public funeral Sunday to mourn the death of former Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet. He was the prime minister from 1991 to 1997 who led the nation’s economic reforms and supported normalization of ties with the United States. He was 85.

Kiet died last Wednesday in a hospital in Singapore, where he was taken following a stroke.

The government announced two days of mourning to honor Kiet with flags flying at half-mast.

As a procession of military vehicles carried Kiet’s coffin to be cremated, thousands of mourners lined the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. He was buried at 11.40 a.m. Sunday at the Ho Chi Minh City Cemetery.

Kiet was a veteran of war and fought the French and Americans for almost four decades. At the age of 16, he joined the Communist revolutionary forces.

When he became prime minister, Kiet implemented policies that attracted billions of dollars worth of investment that allowed the country’s economy to grow. He was instrumental in the privatization of state industries, revision of laws and the end of special privileges for government officials.

The country's top leaders paid their respects to Kiet in the Reunification Palace.

In the condolence book, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, wrote: "You are a Communist Party member, devoted, unwavering and heroic. You have devoted all of your life to the country and the people."

The youth also expressed mourning through thousands of letters sent to newspapers and written in blogs.