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Pro-Vietnamese Communists Get Top Laos Posts

From Associated Press

Two hard-line, pro-Vietnamese Communists have been named to take over the top leadership posts of Laos that were held by Kaysone Phomvihan until his death last week, according to Laotian news reports made available Thursday.

The two men were the closest associates of Kaysone, who died Saturday at age 71, and their appointment signifies little change in government. The aging, secretive trio was popularly known as “the iron triangle.”

Nouhak Phoumsavan, the National Assembly chairman, was named president Wednesday, official Laotian radio reported.

Gen. Khamtai Siphandon, the premier, took over Kaysone’s other position as head of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.

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Kaysone, Khamtai and Nouhak long have monopolized power in Laos, an impoverished, landlocked country. They were among a small core of Communist Pathet Lao who fought against the U.S.-buttressed government in Vientiane and then retained power after the Communist victory in 1975.

The announcements were made after special sessions of the National Assembly and the party’s Central Committee, the radio reports said. The broadcasts were monitored in Bangkok by a Western embassy.

Nouhak and Khamtai were both among the founding members of the Laotian Communist movement in 1950 and held key positions in the party, military and government for four decades.

Expected to succeed Khamtai as premier is Foreign Minister Phoun Sipaseut, regarded as more liberal than some of his colleagues.

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