Souvanna Phouma

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Souvanna Phouma
7th Prime Minister of Laos
In office
21 November 1951 – 20 October 1954
MonarchSisavang Vong
Preceded byPhoui Sananikone
Succeeded byKatay Don Sasorith
In office
21 March 1956 – 17 August 1958
Preceded byKatay Don Sasorith
Succeeded byPhoui Sananikone
In office
30 August 1960 – 13 December 1960
MonarchSisavang Vatthana
Preceded bySomsanith Vongkotrattana
Succeeded byBoun Oum
In office
23 June 1962 – 2 December 1975
Preceded byBoun Oum
Succeeded byKaysone Phomvihane
Personal details
Born7 October 1901
Luang Prabang, French Laos
Died10 January 1984(1984-01-10) (aged 82)
Vientiane, Laos
Political partyNational Progressive Party
Lao Neutralist Party
(m. 1933; div. 1969)

Prince Souvanna Phouma (Lao: ສຸວັນນະພູມາ; 7 October 1901 – 10 January 1984)[2] was the leader of the neutralist faction and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Laos several times (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960, and 1962–1975).

Early life[edit]

Souvanna Phouma was the son of Bounkhong, the last vice-king of Luang Prabang and a nephew of King Sisavang Vong of Laos, given a French education in Hanoi, Paris and Grenoble, where he obtained his degree in architecture and engineering.[3] He returned to his homeland in 1931, married Aline Claire Allard, the daughter of a French father and a Lao mother, and entered the Public Works Service of French Indochina.

Souvanna Phouma, together with his brother, Prince Phetsarath Rattanavongsa (1891–1959) and his half-brother, Prince Souphanouvong (1909–1995), around the end of World War II, joined the Lao Issara (Free Laos) movement established to counter the French occupation and its provisional Vientiane government (1945–46).

When the French reoccupied Laos, Souvanna fled to exile in Bangkok, but returned to Laos in 1949 as France began conceding autonomy to Laos.

Souvanna Phouma and his wife had four children including Mangkra Souvanna Phouma and Princess Moune, who married Perry J. Stieglitz, cultural-affairs attaché of the U.S. embassy.[1][4]

Prime Ministership[edit]

In 1951, Souvanna became Prime Minister of Laos under the National Progressive Party banner with a landslide victory, winning 15 of the 39 seats in the National Assembly. He was prime minister until 1954.

After elections in December 1955, Souvanna Phouma returned to the prime ministership on a platform of national reconciliation. In August 1956 Souvanna and the Communist Pathet Lao, which his half-brother Souphanouvong headed agreed on broad proposals for a 'government of national union'. Elections for 21 extra assembly seats were finally held in May 1958, with parties aligned with the Pathet Lao acquiring 13. Souphanouvong entered the government as Economic Minister. Another Pathet Lao leader, Phoumi Vongvichit, also acquired a Ministry.

Prince Souvanna Phouma and US president John F. Kennedy in 1962

In June 1958 Souvanna was again forced to resign by the rightists.[citation needed] The king accepted the vote as legal the next day when he signed Royal Ordinance No. 282, dismissing Souvanna Phouma's government and giving powers provisionally to the Revolutionary Committee. Royal Ordinance No. 283, approved a provisional government formed by Prince Boun Oum, who acted as front man for Phoui Sananikone. He was one of the Three Princes, whom Sisavang Vatthana appointed to form a coalition government between the rightists and Pathet Lao but it collapsed, and the Laotian Civil War began.

Souvanna Phouma was elected President of National Assembly from May 1960 to August 1960 following the 1960 elections.[2]


Foreign Honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Princess Souvanna Phouma Dies; Divorced Wife of Ex‐Laotian Chief". The New York Times. 9 September 1977.
  2. ^ a b Stuart-Fox, Martin (2008). Historical Dictionary of Laos. ISBN 978-0-8108-5624-0. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  3. ^ Pace, Eric (January 11, 1984). "Souvanna Phouma dies in Laos". New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  4. ^ "Married". Time. 1 November 1968. Archived from the original on 2013-06-24. Retrieved 2008-08-05. Princess Moune, 33, daughter of Laotian Premier Prince Souvanna Phouma, currently a foreign-affairs adviser in her father's cabinet; and Perry J. Stieglitz, 48, cultural-affairs attaché of the U.S. embassy in, Vientiane; she for the second time, he for the first; in a traditional Buddhist ceremony; in Vientiane.
  5. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekuthun 1971" (PDF).


  • Stieglitz, Perry. In a Little Kingdom. 1990 M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Laos
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Laos
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Laos
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Laos
Succeeded by