Laos is one of the few remaining communist state in the World. The country is divided into sixteen provinces, one capital and one special zone. Provinces are further divided into districts and villages. Vientiane is the capital of the country and an independent prefecture which enjoys administrative parity.
The Head of State is the President and acts as the Commander in Chief of the country’s armed forces. The President is elected by two-thirds vote of the National Assembly for a five year term. The head of the government is the Prime Minister together with the Council of Ministers are selected by the President and elected by the National Assembly. The National Assembly is consists of 115 members who are elected by popular vote for five year term from the list of candidates selected by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party. The country’s legal system is based on traditional customs following French legal norms and procedures and socialist practice and has not accepted compulsory International Court Justice jurisdiction.
In 2006 President Lt. Gen Choummali Saignason was elected as the chief of state of the country together with Vice President Boun-gnang Volachit. The president has the power to appoints and dismiss the prime minister and members of the government with the approval of the National Assembly. As a head of armed forces the president has the right and duty to promulgate laws and decree as well as state acts. Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh is the currently serving the country appointed by the president with the approval of National Assembly. The Prime Minister serves as a chairman of Council of Ministers and responsible for the guidance and supervision of the work of government ministries and committees. The office of the Prime Minister is also responsible for overseeing governors of the provinces and mayors of municipalities.
The lack of Laos Constitution created various problems to the country including the reluctance of international development agencies to invest in Laos. In 1989, seventeen-member were appointed to be part of constitutional drafting committee. There were many controversies endured during the formation of the Constitution. By 1990 the SPA made public the draft constitution and after sixteen years of the establishment of Lao People Democratic Republic (LPDR) the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), highest legislative organ adopted a constitution in August 1991.
The 1991 constitution contains elements of an earlier revolutionary orthodoxy and heavily inspired by the Eastern Europe and Soviet Union. The constitution embraced economic and political liberalization however the domination of the Lao People Revolutionary Party was clearly preserved through building socialist world and international balance of forces. Embracing one party system in the country was heavily criticized by many intellectuals and officials. In 2003, the 1991 constitution was amended, the outline of the system consist of three separate branches- the executive, legislative, and judicial and in practice the LPRP will continue to control governance and the choice of leaders at all levels through its constitutionally designated “leading role”. Despite the fact that the Laos Constitution grants much freedom to the public in most cases it remains theoretical.
The constitution encouraged the central government to have a direct contract and trading agreement with neighboring jurisdictions. Thus, the relationship of the state to the other countries expanded. However the country still relies on foreign assistance mainly from Sweden, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Australia. Remoteness, poverty and increasing anomalousness still exist in the country.