Country Listing

Laos Table of Contents



Government: Lao People's Democratic Republic proclaimed December 2, 1975, abolishing monarchy of Royal Lao Government. New constitution unanimously endorsed by unicameral eighty-five-member Supreme People's Assembly, August 14, 1991; renamed National Assembly (1992); exercises power according to principle of democratic centralism. National Assembly elected December 1992; inaugural session, February 1993. As legislative organ oversees judiciary and activities of administration. President head of state, elected by National Assembly for five-year term; also commander in chief of armed forces. Council of Ministers highest executive organ; chairman is prime minister; vice chairmen oversee work of ministers. Real power exercised by members of the ruling party, Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP), particularly Political Bureau (Politburo) and Central Committee.

Politics: Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) only legal party. Party conference held late November 1993 to include representatives of provincial party units, Central Committee members, secretaries of party committees in ministries, departments, factories, and schools. Speeches on neglect of party activities and quality of membership hint at concern with corruption and need to build party at grass-roots level.

Judiciary: Comprises Supreme People's Court, provincial and municipal courts, people's district courts, and military courts.

Administrative Divisions: Divided into sixteen provinces (khoueng): Attapu, Borikhan, Bokeo, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louang Namtha, Louangphrabang, Oudômxai, Phôngsali, Saravan, Savannakhét, Xaignabouri, Xekong, Xiangkhoang, and Vientiane; one municipality (kampheng nakhon), Vientiane; two special zones, Xaisomboun in northeastern Vientiane Province (established June 1994), and Xianghon-Hôngsa, formerly two districts in Xaignabouri Province (established mid-1992); districts (muang) and villages (ban).

Foreign Affairs: "Special relationship"--twenty-five-year mutual security treaty signed 1977--with Vietnam continues, although intensity lessening. Relations with Thailand--primary economic partner, particularly in hydroelectricity--improved after period of distrust punctuated by border clashes. Increased intraregional ties; observer status, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), since 1992. United States granted Laos national interest waiver in April 1994 for counternarcotics cooperation; determined necessary for continued cooperation on issue of unaccounted-for United States military personnel.

Data as of July 1994