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Laos president, PM handed new terms: media

HANOI, June 15, 2011 (AFP) - Legislators in communist Laos on Wednesday approved fresh terms for the president and prime minister, official media said, in the wake of a five-yearly Congress that cemented one-party rule.

Choummaly Sayasone, the country's most powerful figure, was confirmed as president while Thongsing Thammavong was re-appointed by legislators as prime minister, the official Lao News Agency (KPL) reported.

The new terms were widely expected after Choummaly was approved as chief of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party at its March Congress. He has held the twin posts of president and party chief since 2006.

Thongsing, a former president of the National Assembly, took the role of prime minister in December after the surprise resignation of his predecessor.

He is the sixth person to hold the post since communist forces came to power in 1975, establishing a one-party state.

The new 132-seat legislature began meeting Tuesday following nationwide elections in late April.

But the real power remains with the ruling Politburo and Central Committee chosen at the Congress by fewer than 600 party members behind closed doors, analysts say.

Both Vietnam and China vie for influence in landlocked Laos, which is rapidly developing but remains one of Asia's poorest nations.

The government spokesman could not be reached for comment.


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