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Politics of Laos

The only legal political party is the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The head of state is President Khamtay Siphandone[?]. The head of government is Prime Minister Sisavath Keobounphanh[?], who also is Chairman of the LPRP. Government policies are determined by the party through the all-powerful nine-member Politburo and the 49-member Central Committee. Important government decisions are vetted by the Council of Ministers.

Laos adopted a constitution in 1991. The following year, elections were held for a new 85-seat National Assembly with members elected by secret ballot to 5-year terms. This National Assembly, expanded in 1997 elections to 99 members, approves all new laws, although the executive branch retains authority to issue binding decrees. The most recent elections took place in December 1997. The FY 2000 central government budget plan calls for revenue of $180 million and expenditures of $289 million, including capital expenditures of $202 million.

Country name:
conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
conventional short form: Laos
local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
local short form: none

Data code: LA

Government type: Communist state

Capital: Vientiane

Administrative divisions: 16 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural), 1 municipality* (kampheng nakhon, singular and plural), and 1 special zone** (khetphiset, singular and plural); Attapeu[?], Bokeo, Borikhamxay[?], Champassack, Houaphan, Khammouane[?], Louang Namtha[?], Louang Phabang[?], Oudomxay[?], Phongsaly[?], Saravane[?], Savannakhet[?], Vientiane, Sayaboury[?], Saysomboun[?]**, Xekong[?], Xieng Khouang[?]

Independence: July 19, 1949 (from France)

National holiday: National Day, December 2 (1975) (proclamation of the Lao People's Democratic Republic)

Constitution: promulgated August 14, 1991

Legal system: based on traditional customs, French legal norms and procedures, and Socialist practice

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Khamtay Siphandone[?] (since 26 February 1998); note - currently the position of vice president is vacant; Vice President Oudom Khattiya died on 9 December 1999 and a replacement has not yet been named
head of government: Prime Minister Sisavath Keobounphan[?] (since 26 February 1998); Senior Deputy Prime Minister Boun-Nhang Vorachith (since 20 April 1996); Deputy Prime Ministers Choummali Saygnasone (since 26 February 1998), Somsavat Lengsavad (since 26 February 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held 21 December 1997 (next to be held NA 2002); prime minister appointed by the president with the approval of the National Assembly for a five-year term
election results: KHAMTAI Siphandon elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly led by Samane Vignaket[?] (99 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; note - by presidential decree, on 27 October 1997, the number of seats increased from 85 to 99)
elections: last held 21 December 1997 (next to be held NA 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPRP or LPRP-approved (independent, non-party members) 99

Judicial branch: People's Supreme Court, the president of the People's Supreme Court is elected by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the National Assembly Standing Committee, the vice president of the People's Supreme Court and the judges are appointed by the National Assembly Standing Committee

Political parties and leaders: Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [Khamtai Siphandon, party president]; other parties proscribed

Political pressure groups and leaders: noncommunist political groups proscribed; most opposition leaders fled the country in 1975

International organization participation: ACCT[?], AsDB, ASEAN, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)

Flag description: three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band

See also : Laos

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