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South Vietnamese Junta Realigns

Jan. 6, 1964 - South Vietnam’s military junta disclosed today a major power realignment that virtually placed the country under the rule of three senior generals. The triumvirate consists of Maj. Gen. Duong Van Minh (pictured), chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council, and his two closest allies, Maj. Gen. Tran Van Don and Maj. Gen. Le Van Kim. General Minh kept his post as chief of state, while the two other generals assumed command of the nation’s armed forces. In a key change, the fourth principal member of the junta, Maj. Gen. Ton That Dinh, was stripped of his command of the III Corps, whose troops surround Saigon. It was the plotting of the ambitious and flamboyant General Minh that clinched success for the Nov. 1 coup that deposed President Ngo Dinh Diem. His talent for such maneuvering, however, made the other generals wary of a potential threat to their own positions.

U.S. officials had been urging some streamlining of command and suggesting that General Dinh relinquish some power. They were hopeful that the shifts would make possible the strong central leadership they have been calling for since the coup. There also was hope that political maneuvering might ease and allow the three key leaders to devote more attention to prosecuting the war against the Communist Viet Cong. Other experienced observers cautioned that the internal intriguing might continue. One said: “They [the triumvirate] have the power now. That’s no guarantee, of course, that they’ll be able to keep it.”


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