Home > World News > Laos’ ex-PM ‘lacked strong support’ [did he jump or was he pushed?]

Laos’ ex-PM ‘lacked strong support’ [did he jump or was he pushed?]

The anointed Thongsing Thammavong
the sacked Bouasone Bouphavanh
HANOI — Laotian Prime
Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, who resigned this week before the end of
his term, had vowed to tackle corruption but never had enough support
from his communist party, an analyst said Friday.

The
56-year-old Bouasone, who had spent more than four years in office, was
replaced on Thursday by Thongsing Thammavong, 66, president of the
communist-dominated National Assembly.

Bouasone had told deputies
he could no longer perform his duties because of “family problems,”
government spokesman Khenthong Nuanthasing told AFP from Laos.

Martin Stuart-Fox, an Australia-based specialist on Laos, said the resignation came as a surprise.

“When appointed, he said he would do something about the rampant corruption that now riddles the Lao regime. But Bouasone always lacked a strong base within the ruling party,” said Stuart-Fox, professor emeritus at the University of Queensland.

“His attempts to build one since the last party congress have obviously failed.”

The five-yearly congress of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party is expected to be held early next year.

Although Bouasone’s departure surprised outside observers, a source at the Vietnamese embassy in Vientiane said the move had been expected.

“It concerns an internal adjustment destined to prepare for the next congress” expected at the end of March, the source said.

At
the time of Bouasone’s appointment in June 2006 a Laos-based diplomat
called him “a technocrat who is part of the younger generation of Lao
leaders.”

But he was “relatively conservative with little experience of the business world,” a foreign expert said at the time.

Stuart-Fox
said Bouasone had been appointed with the support of former president
Khamtay Siphandone, “whose client he always was.”

The current
president, Choummaly Sayasone, who holds the joint position of party
chief and is the country’s most powerful figure, was appointed shortly
before Bouasone took office.

Thongsing, the new prime minister,
is the country’s sixth since communist forces came to power in 1975,
establishing a one-party state.

He is a former mayor of the capital, Vientiane.

“I will improve the way the government works to ensure state activities are timely, transparent, united and harmonious and create favourable conditions for the business
sector and for the Lao people to earn a living based on the law,”
Thongsing was quoted as saying in Friday’s edition of the state-linked
Vientiane Times.

Laos, a rural-based society of about six million, is one of Asia’s poorest nations and is highly reliant on foreign donors.

Bouasone told a conference in Vietnam earlier this year that Laos aims for “no less than” eight percent annual economic growth to 2015.

The
country’s economy has been expanding at an annual average of seven
percent in recent years, and the government aims “to lift the country
from underdevelopment by 2020,” he said.

Donors and
non-governmental organisations have cautioned the government over its
growth strategy, which features large-scale foreign investment in
resource sectors that potentially could have negative effects on
socio-economic development.

Chinese economic influence is fast-rising in Laos, which has traditional political ties, as well as business links, with Vietnam.

By Ian Timberlake
(AFP)
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Categories: World News
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