News / Asia

    Laos Undergoes Communist Party Leadership Change

    FILE - In this file picture taken on July 26, 2005, then Lao Prime Minister Bounnhang Vorachith addresses the opening ceremony of the 36th annual ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Vientiane.
    FILE - In this file picture taken on July 26, 2005, then Lao Prime Minister Bounnhang Vorachith addresses the opening ceremony of the 36th annual ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Vientiane.
    Ron Corben

    The Lao Communist Party has undergone a change in leadership during its 10th Party Congress, signaling the country's future direction as it prepares to chair the Association of South East Asian Nations. The move came ahead of a visit to Laos by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

    The week-long Lao Communist Party congress was marked by the election of the 78-year-old party veteran Bounnhang Vorachit as the new secretary-general.

    Bounnhang has long standing ties with Vietnam, dating back to military training and as a student. He succeeded Choummaly Sayasone, who had been in the post for 10 years.

    State media said nearly 700 delegates representing the more than 200,000 party members attended the five day congress in Vientiane, the 10th congress since the Communist Party came to power in 1975.

    The congress, coming just ahead of an official visit to Laos by Secretary of State Kerry, was also highlighted by promotion of the Foreign Affairs Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to the post of prime minister.

    Seeking better relations with US

    Diplomatic sources in Vientiane told VOA that Thongloun has been a long-standing advocate of rebuilding bilateral ties with the U.S.

    But Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, stresses that overall policy is unlikely to change under the new leadership and the government will continue to face criticism over its human rights record.

    “The new leadership is more of the same. More of the same in terms of repression and constraints on civil society and basic freedoms," he said. "We have had some scandals in the recent past over disappearances or civil society activists and human rights violations — so that is expected to be maintained.”

    Analysts say the retirement of two pro-China politburo members may also weaken Beijing’s growing influence.

    China has been Laos’ largest foreign investor, followed by Vietnam and Thailand.

    Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad during the congress said the Party’s goal was to see Laos shed its least developed country status by 2020 and further alleviate poverty.

    ASEAN chairmanship

    Carl Thayer, a defense analyst at the University of New South Wales, says Laos will have to balance its international diplomacy, with the country taking over chairmanship of ASEAN and hosting major world leaders, including President Barack Obama, in the coming year.

    “Obama is going to visit the region in May, particularly to Vietnam. He’s setting up in the last bit of the year where American diplomacy can go with Laos as (ASEAN) chair and try to keep it an independent and neutral course rather than leaning toward China which some people argue would be the case,” said Thayer.

    Analysts say by chairing ASEAN Laos will be under the international spotlight as the Communist Party looks to balance ties between China and Vietnam as well as focusing on economic growth.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora