Politics of Laos

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The politics of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (commonly known as Laos) takes place in the framework of a one-party parliamentary socialist republic.[1] The only legal political party is the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP).[2] The head of state is President Thongloun Sisoulith, who is also the LPRP general secretary, making him the supreme leader of Laos. The head of government is Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone.

Government policies are determined by the party through the all-powerful nine-member LPRP Politburo and the 49-member LPRP Central Committee. Important government decisions are vetted by the Council of Ministers.

Political culture[edit]

Laos' first, French-written and monarchical constitution was promulgated on May 11, 1947 and declared it to be an independent state within the French Union. The revised constitution of May 11, 1957, omitted reference to the French Union, though close educational, health and technical ties with the former colonial power persisted. The 1957 document was abrogated on December 3, 1975, when a communist state was proclaimed.

A new constitution was adopted in 1991 and enshrined a "leading role" for the LPRP. The following year, elections were held for a new 85-seat National Assembly with members elected by secret ballot to five-year terms. This National Assembly approves all new laws, although the executive branch retains authority to issue binding decrees.

The most recent election took place in February 2021. The election was tightly controlled by the ruling LPRP.[3]

Insurgency[edit]

In the early 2000s, bomb attacks against the government occurred, coupled with small exchanges of fire, across Laos.[4] A variety of different groups have claimed responsibility including the Committee for Independence and Democracy in Laos and Lao Citizens Movement for Democracy.

Lao People's Revolutionary Party[edit]

Politburo[edit]

  1. Thongloun Sisoulith, General Secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (since 15 January 2021) and President of Laos (since 22 March 2021)
  2. Sonexay Siphandone, Prime Minister (since 30 December 2022)
  3. Bounthong Chitmany, Vice President of Lao People's Democratic Republic (since 22 March 2021)
  4. Pany Yathotou, Vice President of Lao People's Democratic Republic (since 22 March 2021)
  5. Saysomphone Phomvihane, President of the National Assembly (since 22 March 2021)
  6. Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune, Deputy Prime Minister, Head of the LPRP Propaganda and Training Board
  7. Saleumxay Kommasith, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  8. Chansamone Chanyalath, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defence
  9. Vilay Lakhamfong, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Security
  10. Phankham Viphavanh, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party

Secretariat[edit]

  1. Lt. Gen. Choummaly Sayasone
  2. Bounnhang Vorachit (PCC Standing Secretariat)
  3. Dr Bounthong Chitmany, Chairman of the Commission for Inspection, Chairman of the State Inspection Committee
  4. Dr Bounpone Bouttanavong, Head of Lao Party Central Office, Deputy Prime Minister
  5. Dr Thongban Seng-aphone, Minister of Public Security (died in 2014)
  6. Chansy Phosikham, Head of the Party's Central Organisation Commission
  7. Soukan Mahalath, Secretary of the Vientiane City Party Committee, Vientiane Mayor (died in 2014)
  8. Lt. Gen. Sengnuan Xayalath, Acting Minister of National Defense (June 2014)
  9. Cheuang Sombounkhanh, Head of the Central Propaganda and Training Commission (died in 2014)

Inspection Committee of the Party Central Committee

  1. Bounthong Chitmany (President)
  2. Thongsy Ouanlasy
  3. Sinay Mienglavanh
  4. Khamsuan Chanthavong
  5. Thongsouk Bounyavong
  6. Singphet Bounsavatthiphan
  7. Bounpone Sangsomsak

Party Central Committee Advisor: Khamtai Siphandon

Executive branch[edit]

Main office-holders
Office Name Party Since
President Thongloun Sisoulith Lao People's Revolutionary Party 22 March 2021
Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh Lao People's Revolutionary Party 22 March 2021

The president is elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the president with the approval of the National Assembly for a five-year term.

There are also four deputy prime ministers. As of a cabinet reshuffle on June 8, 2006, they are Maj. Gen. Douangchay Phichit (also defense minister), Thongloun Sisoulith (also foreign minister), Somsavat Lengsavad and Maj. Gen. Asang Laoly.

The 28-member cabinet also includes Onechanh Thammavong as labour minister, Chaleuan Yapaoher as justice minister, Nam Vignaket as industry and commerce minister, Sitaheng Latsaphone as agriculture minister and Sommad Pholsena as transport minister.

Legislative branch[edit]

The National Assembly (Sapha Heng Xat) has 164 members (158 are LPRP, 6 independents), elected for a five-year term.

Political parties and elections[edit]

Parliamentary elections[edit]

PartyVotes%Seats+/–
Lao People's Revolutionary Party144+16
Independents5+1
Total149+17
Total votes3,657,026
Registered voters/turnout3,733,93297.94
Source: IPU
Main office-holders
Office Name Party Since
General Secretary Thongloun Sisoulith Lao People's Revolutionary Party 15 January 2021

Judicial branch[edit]

Supreme People's Court[edit]

According to Article 91 of the Constitution of the Lao PDR, the People's Court of the Lao People's Democratic Republic "consists of the Supreme People's Court, the local people's court and the military court as defined by law".

The Supreme People's Court of the Lao People's Democratic Republic was established in 1982.[5] As outlined in Article 92, the People's Supreme Court of the Lao People's Democratic Republic is the highest judicial body and "examines the judgments and judgments of the people's courts and military courts".[6][7] There has been indications that women have served on the provincial courts.[8] For instance, in 2018, it was announced that Napaporn Phong Thai was appointed as the President of Court Zone 2, Xayaburi Province.[9]

Per Article 93, the President, Vice President and the judges are appointed, transferred or removed by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly. Although the Standing Committee has decisive authority, the same article does state that President does have some power regarding the appointment, transferal or removal of the Vice President.

In 1983, Oun Nue Phimmasone became the first President of the People's Supreme Court.[5] Currently, the President is Khamphanh Sithidampha.

Public Prosecutor's Office[edit]

The Public Prosecutor's Office was established in 1990.[10][11] Article 99 of the Constitution of Laos states that the office has the responsibility of "monitor[ing] the observance and implementation of laws throughout the country, protect[ing] the rights of the state and society...[and] the legitimate interests of the people, and prosecut[ing] detainees in accordance with the law". The office is organized in the following three ways:[7][12]

Supreme People's Prosecutor

  • The Office of the Supreme People's Prosecutor
  • The Office of the Public Prosecutor at the appellate level

The Chief of the Supreme Public Prosecutor directs all the activities of the Public Prosecutor at every level.[7] All activities are reported to the National Assembly.[13]

Local People's Procuratorate

  • Provincial and city public prosecutors' offices
  • District, Municipal Public Prosecutor's Office (district or municipal public prosecutors are called local public prosecutors)

Military Prosecutor's Office[edit]

As of June 2022, the Supreme People's Prosecutor is Xayasana Kotphuthone.[14]

Laos Bar Association[edit]

As for attorneys in general, according to a 2016 article, there are 188 lawyers in Laos who are members of the Laos Bar Association. However, most of the attorneys have entered the government sector and do not practice law—seldom giving thought to practicing in the private sector. While there is evidence of female lawyers in Laos, there is no indication as to how women have fared in the legal field.[15] Pursuant to the Resolution of the National Assembly No. 024 / NA (On the Adoption of the Law on Lawyers; November 9, 2016), requirements include possessing a baccalaureate degree, being a Laos citizen and passing an examination (separate requirements exist for foreign lawyers). Although the Laos Bar Association issues certificates to graduates of the legal profession, it is the Ministry of Justice of Laos that sets the legal training standards.[16]

Government[edit]

Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of Laos at the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2019 in Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam; organised by TTG Events, Singapore

Presidential Palace Office[edit]

  • Phongsavath Boupha, Minister to Presidential Palace's Office

PM Office[edit]

  • Sonxay Siphandone, Minister to the Prime Minister's Office, Head of the government Secretariat committee
  • Bounpheng Mounphosay, Minister to Prime Minister's Office, Head the Public Administration and Civil Service Authority (PACSA)
  • Bounheuang Douangphachanh, Minister to the Prime Minister's office, Chairman of the National Steering Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Reduction
  • Dr Douangsavath Souphanouvong, Minister to Prime Minister's Office
  • Dr Bounteim Phitsamai, Minister to Prime Minister's Office
  • Khempheng Pholsena, Minister to Prime Minister's Office
  • Phupeth Khamphounvong, Minister to the Prime Minister's Office

Somphao Phaysith, Governor of Lao PDR Central Bank

National Assembly (April 2016)[edit]

  • President of the National Assembly: Pany Yathotou (re-elected)
  • Vice-President of the National Assembly: Somphanh Phengkhammy (re-elected), Sengnouan Sayalath, Bounpone Bouttanavong and Sisay Leudethmounsone

Administrative divisions[edit]

Laos is divided into 17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural), 1 municipality* ( nakhon luang vientiane, singular and plural):
Attapu, Bokeo, Borikhamxay, Champassack, Houaphan, Khammouane, Louang Namtha, Luangphabang, Oudomxay, Phongsaly, Saravane, Savannakhet, Sekong, Vientiane*, Vientiane, Sayaboury, Xaisomboun, and Xieng Khouang.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Crises in the USSR: Are the Constitutional and Legislative Changes Enough".
  2. ^ "Laos profile". 2018-01-09. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  3. ^ "Laos' Pointless Election". thediplomat.com.
  4. ^ "BBC News - ASIA-PACIFIC - Bomb blast in Laos capital". news.bbc.co.uk.
  5. ^ a b "ປະຫວັດຄວາມເປັນມາຂອງສານປະຊາຊົນສູງສຸດ - www.peoplecourt.gov.la". www.peoplecourt.gov.la. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  6. ^ "ສານປະຊາຊົນສູງສຸດ ໄດ້ຈັດງານໂຮມຊຸມນຸມສະເຫຼີມສະຫຼອງວັນສ້າງຕັ້ງສານປະຊາຊົນ ຄົບຮອບ 35 ປີ (15 ສິງຫາ 1982 - 15 ສິງຫາ 2017) - www.peoplecourt.gov.la". www.peoplecourt.gov.la. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  7. ^ a b c "ໝວດທີ X ສານປະຊາຊົນ ແລະ ອົງການໄອຍະການປະຊາຊົນ - www.peoplecourt.gov.la". www.peoplecourt.gov.la. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  8. ^ "ສານປະຊາຊົນພາກໃຕ້ຈັດຕັ້ງພິທີປະກາດການແຕ່ງຕັ້ງຜູ້ພິພາກສາທີ່ແຂວງຈຳປາສັກ - www.peoplecourt.gov.la". www.peoplecourt.gov.la. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  9. ^ "ພິທີ ປະກາດແຕ່ງຕັ້ງ ປະທານສານປະຊາຊົນ ເຂດ 2 ແຂວງໄຊຍະບູລີ - www.peoplecourt.gov.la". www.peoplecourt.gov.la. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  10. ^ "ອົງການໄອຍະການປະຊາຊົນສູງສຸດ ຫວນຄືນມູນເຊື້ອວັນສ້າງຕັ້ງ 26 ປີ". www.laosecurity.gov.la. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  11. ^ "ແຂວງຫຼວງນໍ້າທາສະເຫຼີມສະຫຼອງວັນສ້າງຕັ້ງໄອຍະການປະຊາຊົນຄົບຮອບ 30 ປີ 9 ມັງກອນ 1990 ຫາ 9 ມັງກອນ 2020. | ຂ່າວສານແຂວງຫຼວງນໍ້າທາ". Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  12. ^ "ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວສັນຕິພາບ ເອກະລາດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ເອກະພາບ ວັດທະນາຖາວອນ" (PDF). JICA. 2007.
  13. ^ "ອົງການໄອຍະການປະຊາຊົນເລກທີ..........ອອປສສູງສຸດ ແຫ່ງ ສປປ ລາວ" (PDF). ພະແນກສັງລວມ ຫ້ອງການ ອົງການໄອຍະການປະຊາຊົນສູງສຸດ.
  14. ^ "The Cuban Ambassador visits the Office of the Supreme People's Prosecutor of Laos". CUBADIPLOMATICA. 2022-12-04. Retrieved 2023-08-07.
  15. ^ "Lao Legal Market: A Gentle Awakening -". laotiantimes.com. 25 August 2016. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  16. ^ "ກ່ຽວກັບການປະກາດໃຊ້ກົດໝາຍ ວ່າດ້ວຍທະນາຍຄວາມ (ສະບັບປັບປຸງ)" (PDF). 2016.
  17. ^ "Laos shuffles top Cabinet posts amid economic slowdown". Radio Free Asia. 2022-06-22. Retrieved 2023-10-15.