Following the constitution of 1991, Laos is a people
democracy with the revolutionary party of the Laotian people
as the state party. That is, this party - a Communist Party
- has the government and is the only political party
allowed. The supreme executive has been appointed a state
president, elected by the National Assembly for five years.
The president, who is also the party's secretary general, is
a military commander, appoints the government and ratifies
The National Assembly is elected in the general election
for five years from among candidates from a list approved by
the ruling party. With the exception of a small number, the
vast majority of representatives belong to the ruling party.
The Assembly adopts laws and can remove the president and
adopt distrust proposals against the government. In reality,
however, its role is more modest. It meets for shorter
sessions and works between sessions through a standing
Administratively, Laos is divided into 16 provinces, one
area of special status and the metropolitan area. Laos is
distinctly unitary state, although the non-Laotian groups in
the north have some autonomy. The president appoints both
the provincial governors and the mayors in the municipal
areas, while the prime minister appoints a number of other
local officials. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how LA can stand for Laos.
The judiciary includes a people's supreme court, the
people's provincial and local courts and military courts.
The Attorney General is elected by the National Assembly on
the proposal of its standing committee. Other judges are
appointed by the Standing Committee of the National
Laos foreign policy
Laos ' foreign policy is mainly concentrated on
neighboring Vietnam, China and Thailand.
In the years following the Vietnam War, Vietnam had
40,000-50,000 soldiers in Laos; these were withdrawn in the
late 1980s. In the battle between the communist great powers
of the Soviet Union and China, Laos took the party for the
Soviet Union. In 1978, all Chinese aid personnel were
withdrawn, but in 1990 relations with China were declared
Economic change in prices towards the end of the 1980s,
along with the collapse of the Soviet Union, forced Laos to
increase relations with capitalist countries. A tense
relationship with Thailand improved. The first bridge
between Laos and Thailand over the Mekong at Vientiane was
opened in 1994. From 1995, Laos took gradual steps towards
membership in the Southeast Asian cooperation organization
ASEAN, and was granted this in 1997.
Politically, Laos is closely linked to Vietnam and China,
but economically Thailand has been its main partner. The EU
is the second largest buyer of Laotian exports. Laos joined
the ASEAN regional cooperation organization in 1997. In
2004, Laos chaired ASEAN and hosted the summit of the year.
In 2008, Laos entered the ASEAN Free Trade Area and attaches
great importance to this collaboration. Laos also joined
ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) in 2004.
Allegations of discrimination and abuse against Hmong
-minoriteten led to relations with the US were first
normalized in 2004, ten years later than the normalization
USA - Vietnam.
The initial service in Laos is a minimum of 18 months.
The armed forces are linked to the Communist Party. The
material is largely of Soviet origin, and much is outdated.
The total force numbers for Lao's armed forces are 29,100
active personnel, and in addition about 100,000
semi-military for local defense. Laos has no navy of its
The army has a staff of 25,600 active personnel.
Materials include 25 tanks (15 of the T-55 type and 10 of
the T-34/85 type), 10 lightweight tanks of the PT-76 type,
and 50 armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the army has
a sea component with about 600 personnel, and a number of
patrol boats and landing craft.
The Air Force had a personnel force of 3500 active
personnel, five light transport aircraft, and 19