The President of Laos, Khamtay Siphandone, has stepped down as head of the Communist Party.
Mr Khamtay stepped down at the party congress in Vientiane.
The move was announced at the end of the country's five-yearly party congress in the capital, Vientiane.
The 82-year old will be replaced at the head of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party by Vice-President Choummaly Sayasone, who is 70.
The party has ruled the country for more than 30 years since seizing power in 1975.
Mr Khamtay also left the politburo, of which the head of state is usually a member, and it was not clear whether he would remain the country's president.
Reports suggested he could step down ahead of parliamentary elections set for 30 April.
Laos, one of the world's few remaining communist states, is one of East Asia's poorest countries.