The defense of Laos, which is based on general military duty with
an initial service of at least 18 months, comprises (2009)
about 29,000 men and is organized into 5 infantry divisions,
7 stand-alone infantry regiments, 52 small patrol boats and
about 20 older combat aircraft. The material is of Soviet
origin. The reserves amount to 100,000 people. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that LAO stands for Laos.
Lao's development has largely depended on military
support from Vietnam, including several agreements concluded
in 1977. 5,000 Vietnamese soldiers, mainly in building
associations, left Laos in 1992. Laos is a member of ASEAN.
Defense costs decreased in 1985-2007 from 7.8% to 0.4% of
Myanmar, Thailand and Laos signed an agreement in April
1999 on a coordinated fight against the production and
export of drugs - especially opium.
In August 1999, President Siphandon deposed Finance
Minister Kamphoui Keoboualapha and National Bank Director
Cheuang Sombounkham. They were made responsible for the
drastic fall in the exchange rate of the country's currency,
Kip. The value of this has fallen 500% over the previous 2
years. In the last years of the 1990s, Laos' economy had
A series of bomb attacks hit the country in 2000-01.
According to the government, the backers were the guerrilla
Chao Fa and anti-communist groups based abroad. The Chao Fa
group is made up of members from the h'mong people and is
accused of receiving help from China. However, a number of
observers believe that the assaults could also be due to
conflicts within the government. In any case, the
celebrations were around the 25th anniversary of the
December 2000 communist takeover of peace. Laos is one of
the 5 countries in the world where the Communist Party
remains in power.
In his opening address to the PPRL Congress in March
2001, President Siphandon acknowledged the failure of
administering the country's fragile economy, but at the same
time stated that the party's goal was to triple per-capita
income by 2020. He further stated that the party needed to
be strengthened, which has 100,000 members. Congress passed
an opinion stating that the party continues its socialist
line and "opposes multi-party rule and political pluralism".
The government intensified the fight against drug
trafficking and declared that anyone arrested with over ½ kg
of heroin would be sentenced to death. In June 2003, this
opportunity was first used by 3 drug dealers.
In October 2001, several European activists were arrested
in front of the presidential palace in Vientiane,
demonstrating against the arrest of several students the
year before during the pro-democracy demonstration. The
European Parliament acknowledged the adoption of a
resolution which, while not likely to suspend EU aid, but
made it dependent on the country's future political
In September 2001, Japan provided a loan for the
construction of the Second Friendship Bridge across the
Mekong River. The work was started in 2002 and is expected
to be completed in 2005.
The conflict with Thailand regarding border crossing in
the Mekong River continued in 2002. some islands in the
At the February 2002 presidential election, Khamtay
Siphandon was re-elected. Only one of the 166 candidates was
not a member of the PPRL.
In June 2003, three drug traffickers became the first to
be sentenced to death after a new law in 2002 allowed the
death penalty for drug trafficking.
In July, ministers and delegates from Laos, China,
Thailand, Myanmar and India signed a statement pledging to
cooperate in the fight against drugs.
In May 2004, a bomb dropped in Vientiane in the Civil
Aviation Building. At the attack, the bomber was killed, no
one took responsibility and the man could not be identified.
In June 2005, three North Americans were expelled,
accused of "interfering with the country's internal affairs
and attempting to obstruct government policy." They turned
out to be members of a California Fact Finding Commission
headquartered. According to the Foreign Ministry, they had
distorted and blocked the country's laws and spread
arguments against the government. In practice, they had
shown tense legs for the government's resettlement policy
towards ethnic minorities, and had urged members of the
Hmong people of northern Xieng Khouang province to disrupt
In November 2005, construction of a hydroelectric power
plant started in Nam Theun.
82-year-old President Khamtay Siphandone resigned in
March 2006 from the post of Communist Party leader and was
replaced by his Vice President, Choummaly Sayasone.