The first legislative elections in Laos since the Communist Party seized power in 1975, scheduled for today, are being seen as a reluctant response to the trend toward democracy in the Soviet Union and Vietnam, the country’s main allies.
“We feel the election is necessary to consolidate state power and further develop democracy,” said Somsavat Lengsavath, deputy prime minister.
Somsavat told reporters that 60% to 70% of the 121 candidates are members of the Communist Party and that all were nominated according to their ability to explain and implement party policies.
Premier Kaysone Phoumvihan has chosen not to run in the elections, but Western diplomats here said there is no question of his continued domination of the party and government.
The first duty of the new assembly will be to name a premier and Cabinet. The assembly also will decide on a national constitution--something the country has done without since the Communists took power from a coalition government Dec. 2, 1975.
A total of 1.8 million voters are eligible to vote.