WORLD IN BRIEF : LAOS : Shake-Up at Top, Constitution OKd
Laos’ revolutionary leaders, desperate to bring prosperity to the destitute country, approved their first constitution and the most substantial leadership shake-up since the 1975 Communist takeover. Kaysone Phoumvihan, Laos’ undisputed chief for the last 16 years, consolidated his power by replacing his ailing revolutionary colleague, “Red Prince” Souphanouvong, as president. Kaysone was succeeded as prime minister by Gen. Khamtai Siphandon, his close ally, defense minister and army chief. Diplomats said the constitution, which makes no mention of socialism, shows that the government has moved still further from its Communist roots since beginning a program of free market reforms in the late 1980s.