Country Listing

Laos Table of Contents



The president of the country is elected by a two-thirds vote of the National Assembly for a term of five years. One surprising constitutional provision transforms the presidency from a ceremonial position into an important political power. The president appoints and can dismiss the prime minister and members of the government, with the approval of the National Assembly-- parliamentary responsibility that has not yet occurred in the short life of the current constitutional regime. He also presides over meetings of the government, "when necessary," and appoints and dismisses provincial governors and mayors of municipalities as well as generals of the armed forces, upon the recommendation of the prime minister. In addition, the president receives and appoints ambassadors and declares states of emergency or war.

The powers accorded to the president grew perceptively during the drafting process of the constitution, but the sudden death of Kaysone, who had moved from prime minister to state president after the promulgation of the constitution, temporarily introduced doubts regarding the relative power potential of the two offices. Nonetheless, the president of state heads the armed forces and has the right and duty to promulgate laws and issue decrees and state acts.

The primary organization for administration is the government, which consists of the prime minister--its head--and deputy prime ministers, ministers, and chairs of ministry-equivalent state committees. The prime minister, appointed by the president with the approval of the National Assembly, serves a five-year term. Duties of this office include the guidance and supervision of the work of government ministries and committees, as well as of the governors of provinces and mayors of municipalities. The prime minister appoints all the deputies at these levels of government, as well as the local district chiefs (see fig. 9).

Data as of July 1994