Public polls open to elect national, provincial assemblies in Laos

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 20, 2016
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Polling stations across the South-East Asian nation of Laos opened Sunday with nearly 4 million citizens aged 18 and over eligible to cast ballots for national and provincial legislatures.

Citizen voters across the country of some 6.4 million are set to elect provincial representatives to five-year terms in the 149-member National Assembly, the country's peak legislative body.

The election was also held to send members to the country's 18 newly-established provincial and prefectural People's Assemblies, the latter established following an amendment to the country's constitution approved by the National Assembly in December.

Polling stations throughout the nation's 17 provinces and the Lao capital Vientiane welcomed voters including the secretary-general of the nation's ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP), Lao Vice-President Bounnhang Vorachith who cast his ballot at Vientiane's Nongbone Buddhist Temple within sight of the revered stupa, That Luang.

All 38 Lao embassies and diplomatic missions have also encouraged participation by expatriate electors from among the 17,000 eligible based abroad.

Laos'National Assembly is responsible for considering and approving policy, constitutional and legislative proposals and overseeing decisions of the state executive and civil service bodies.

Among the first tasks of newly elected assembly members will be casting votes to approve a new president of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and an executive cabinet headed by a prime minister and deputies.

Former secretary-general of the LPRP, the country's serving President Choummaly Sayasone and Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, are not standing for reappointment to their roles.

The 211 candidates nominated for election to the National Assembly include 50 women, with hopes for female representation of about 30 percent in the elected bodies.

Lao citizens over 18 years of age are eligible to vote in the legislative polls, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religious belief, social status or profession.

Similar stipulations apply to national and provincial candidates who must be 21 years and older and have their candidacy supported by a relevant public or civil organization.

It is hoped establishment of provincial legislatures will bring improved oversight to raise governance and policy implementation standards across the provinces as they seek to improve efficiency and tackle profligacy.

With political and governance institutions based on a Marxist-Leninist model, the Lao People's Democratic Republic was established on Dec. 2, 1975 by LPRP co-founder and inaugural Secretary-General, President Kaysone Phomvihane. Enditem

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