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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 14:54 GMT
Pledge to treble Laos incomes
Laos
Most people in Laos survive on less than $1 a day
By regional correspondent Owen Bennett Jones

The President of Laos, Khamtay Siphandone, has said that the Laos People's Revolutionary Party is determined to treble the average income of the Laos people by the year 2020.


He was speaking on the first day of the party congress, which is held every five years.

Most of the Politburo members in Laos are over the age of 70 and it's expected that some changes will be announced.

While most economies in east Asia have undergone radical change over the last two decades, the Revolutionary Party in Laos has shown a reluctance to introduce reforms.

During the Vietnam war Laos became one of the most heavily bombed countries on earth. Its economy has never recovered.

It is now one of the poorest countries in the world. Most Laos people earn less than $1 a day.

Rebellion

There have been some limited attempts to attract foreign investment but so far with little success.

The Laos Government remains committed to a one party state.

There is however some opposition to the communist regime.

Hmong tribesmen in the north of the country have been involved in an armed rebellion for years although some observers believe the insurgency has now degenerated into little more than banditry.

Bombs

Over the last 12 months there's also been a series of bomb attacks in Laos.

The government has been unable to identify those responsible - some western diplomats believe the bombs reflect splits within the ruling party.

The Laos royal family which ruled the country until the communist takeover in 1975 is now in exile.

Leading members of the family have called for a restoration of the constitutional monarchy but it is far from clear that such a proposal would attract much support from the population.

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See also:

02 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Laos marks 25 years of Communism
20 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Laos' battle with poverty
25 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Laos blames blast on business squabble
09 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Bicycle bomb explodes in Laos
11 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Another blast disrupts Laos
31 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Bomb blast in Laos capital
03 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Australians held over Laos gems'
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