March 17, 2011
Mar 17, 2011 (dpa – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — VIENTIANE, Laos — Laos on Thursday kicked off a five-day congress of its ruling communist party, which was expected to make changes in the 11-member Politburo.
The congress was opened by Lao People’s Revolutionary Party secretary general Choummaly Sayasone, who is tipped to be re-elected as party chief, according to diplomatic sources.
The new politburo lineup was to be announced Monday, but no new policies were expected to be implemented.
“There will be a number of changes in the Politburo and Central Committee because of retirements or dismissals, and both will in all probability be enlarged,” said a Vientiane-based diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous.
The current prime minister, Thongsing Thannavong, was also expected to retain his seat on the Politburo. His predecessor, Bouasone Bouphavanh, was dismissed in late December for “family problems,” reportedly related to an extramarital affair.
The party, which has ruled Laos since December 1975, held its first congress on March 22, 1955, with 20 delegates representing 300 party members.
The ninth congress has gathered 576 delegates representing 191,700 party members nationwide.
The party is the only one allowed in Laos, one of the world’s few remaining communist countries.
“We have carried out in-depth political brainstorming in connection with the improvements to be made within the party,” Somsavat Lengsavad, head of the party congress secretariat, said in a pre-congress briefing.
The party has tried to improve communications with its “grassroots, district and provincial level” members nationwide to gather input on social and economic issues, he said.
Laos’ economy has grown an average of 7.9 per cent over the past five years and was targeted to expand 8 per cent this year.
Although the party professes Marxism-Leninism as its core ideology, since the mid-1980s, it has opened up the economy to foreign trade and investment.
The party’s long-term economic goal is to shed its least developed country status by 2020.
13:40, March 17, 2011
The National Congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party opened on Thursday morning at the headquarters of the Party Central Committee in the capital city of Vientiane.
In a speech to the Congress, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong said, “The role and influence of Laos is growing on both the regional and international stage.”
Some 576 delegates representing more than 190,000 Party members nationwide gathered to commence the Congress, Laos’ most important political event, at which a new Party leadership will be selected to direct government policy over the next five years.
During the opening session of the Congress, which runs until March 21, Party Secretary General Choummaly Saysasone, who is also President of Laos, gave a political report detailing achievements and challenges over the past five years.
On Thursday afternoon, delegates will examine the amended draft Party Statute.
On Monday, assembled delegates will select a new Party Central Committee, Politburo and Secretary General, the supreme leadership instruments of the single-party communist state.
This week’s Congress is the ninth to take place since the founding of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party in 1955. The Congress has adopted multiple themes, including “enhancing cohesive solidarity of the Lao nation”, “upholding the leadership role of the party”, and “creating a solid basis for lifting our nation from under-development by 2020″.