Kingdom of Laos
Phra Raja A-na-chak Lao
|Anthem: Pheng Xat Lao |
Hymn of the Lao People
|Capital||Vientiane (official), Luang Prabang (ceremonial)|
|Common languages||Lao (official), French|
|Government||Provisional government (1945–1946), Government-in-exile (1946–1949)|
|Head of State|
|Historical era||World War II|
|8 April 1945|
• Lao Issara takeover
|12 October 1945|
|24 April 1946|
|24 October 1949|
|Today part of||Laos|
|History of Laos|
|Muang city-stats Era|
|Lan Xang Era|
|Regional Kingdoms Era|
The Lao Issara (Lao : ລາວອິດສະລະlit. 'Free Laos') was an anti-French, non-communist nationalist movement formed on 12 October 1945 by Prince Phetsarath. This short-lived movement emerged after the Japanese defeat in World War II and became the government of Laos before the return of the French. It aimed to prevent the French from restoring their control over Laos. The group disbanded in 1949.
In 1944, France was liberated and General Charles de Gaulle was brought into power. At the same time, Japanese Empire troops were being largely defeated in the Pacific Front and in a last-minute attempt of trying to draw support, Japan dissolved French control over its Indochinese colonies in March 1945. Large numbers of French officials in Laos were then imprisoned by the Japanese. King Sisavang Vong was also imprisoned and was forced by the Japanese, and with the urging of Prime Minister Prince Phetsarath, into declaring his Kingdom of Luang Phrabang within the French Protectorate of Laos as an independent state while accepting it into the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere on 8 April 1945.
Prince Phetsarath remained as Prime Minister in the newly independent nation. At the same time, remaining French officials and civilians withdrew to the mountains to regroup and join a growing Laotian insurgency against the Japanese, who occupied Vientiane in March 1945. Led by Crown Prince Savang Vatthana, Laotian insurgents challenged Japanese forces by carrying out attacks on Japanese officials and troops in Laos and many Lao died fighting with the French resistance against the Japanese occupiers.
After Japan's surrender in August, King Sisavang Vong agreed with the French that he intended to have Laos resume its former status as a French colony against the urging of Prince Phetsarath, who sent a telegram to all Laotian provincial governors notifying them that the Japanese surrender did not affect Laos' status as independent and warning them to resist any foreign intervention. Phetsarath also proclaimed unification with the country and the southern Lao provinces of Indochina on 15 September, this led to the King dismissing him from his post as Prime Minister on 10 October.
Prince Phetsarath and several other Lao nationalists formed the Lao Issara in the power vacuum, which took control of the government and reaffirmed the country's independence on 12 October 1945.
|Lao Issara cabinet ministers|
|Head of State||Phetsarath Ratanavongsa|
|Prime Minister/Minister of Foreign Affairs||Phaya Khammao|
|Minister of Public Works||Souvanna Phouma|
|Minister of Defense and Communication||Souphanouvong|
|Minister of Interior and Justice||Somsanith Vongkotrattana|
|Minister of Finance||Katay Don Sasorith|
|Minister of Education||Nhouy Abhay|
|Minister of Economic Affairs||Oune Sananikone|
|Minister of Justice||Ouneheuane Norasing|
|Vice-Minister of Defense||Sing Ratanasamay|
|Vice-Minister of Economic Affairs||Keuang Pathoumsath|
|Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs||Tham Saygnasithsena|
For six months, the Lao Issara government attempted to exercise its authority by establishing a defense force under the command of Phetsarath's younger half-brother Souphanouvong, with the assistance from the Viet Minh government of Ho Chi Minh and the Chinese forces.
However, two events opened the way for the French reconquest of Laos: the modus vivendi agreed between Ho Chi Minh and the French government on 6 March 1946, and the agreement of withdrawal of Chinese forces. This left the Lao Issara government alone to fend for itself, and it became militarily weaker in comparison to the French.
Besides the inability to receive foreign aid, the Lao Issara was also crippled by other internal weaknesses.
The Lao Issara was a small urban-based movement, and was therefore unable to gain mass support from a tribal-oriented population. Its ideas of an independent Laos failed to appeal to the masses.
“As for the population, it was mostly silent, used to the established order and did not appear hardly concerned by this aspiration for the country’s independence, and personally I think that it was mostly loyal to the ancienne administration, that is to say, the French.” - Houmphanh Saignasith, the Secretary to the Minister of Economy
The Lao Issara also did not manage the finances of the country appropriately. The army itself incurred a high cost for its maintenance, and Souphanouvong refused to account for it. Within a very short period of time, the Issara government ran out of money to pay for its own running, let alone anything else. In an attempt to reign in fiscal expenditure and inflation, the Minister of Finance, Katay Don Sasorith, issued new money in early 1946, which quickly became known as ‘Katay’s dried banana leaves’ for the poor quality of the paper on which it was printed and its uselessness. : p.n The Lao Issara, bankrupt and ill-equipped, could only await the inevitable French return. At the end of April 1946 the French took Vientiane, by May they had entered Luang Prabang, and the Lao Issara leadership fled into exile in Thailand.
Once the reconquest was complete, the French set about reconstituting their administration in Laos. On 27 August 1946, the French formally endorsed the unity of the Kingdom of Laos as a constitutional monarchy within the French Union.
There were also French efforts made at conciliation with the nationalists. Discreet overtures toward the Lao Issara in Bangkok suggested the possibility of an amnesty. Gradually, a division of opinion appeared within the Lao Issara ranks over the practical issue of whether to cooperate with the French.
Souphanouvong had made clear his refusal to accept the new political set-up in Vientiane, and was ready to embrace an alliance with the Viet Minh against the French. This repelled most of his colleagues, who began to oppose Souphanouvong's leadership in the Lao Issara.
Besides this, unhappiness towards Souphanouvong became obvious due to his refusal to be accountable to the Issara government for his military activities and financial expenditure. There were personal antagonisms between Souphanouvong and Katay. Both of them exchanged harsh criticisms on one another as each thought the other to be ineffective in their positions. : p.n
On 14 October 1949, due to the lack of cooperation within the movement, the Lao Issara announced its formal dissolution.On 22 October 1953, the Franco–Lao Treaty of Amity and Association transferred remaining French powers, except control of military affairs, to the Royal Lao Government, which did not include any representatives from the disbanded Lao Issara.
A flag resembling that of Thailand, initially used by Lao Issara and then by the Pathet Lao, was formally adopted on 2 December 1975, as the flag of Laos.
Evidence for modern human presence in the northern and central highlands of Indochina, that constitute the territories of the modern Laotian nation-state dates back to the Lower Paleolithic. These earliest human migrants are Australo-Melanesians — associated with the Hoabinhian culture and have populated the highlands and the interior, less accessible regions of Laos and all of South-east Asia to this day. The subsequent Austroasiatic and Austronesian marine migration waves affected landlocked Laos only marginally and direct Chinese and Indian cultural contact had a greater impact on the country.
Kaysone Phomvihane was the first leader of the Communist Lao People's Revolutionary Party from 1955 until his death in 1992. After the Communists seized power in the wake of the Laotian Civil War, he was the de facto leader of Laos from 1975 until his death. He served as the first Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic from 1975 to 1991 and then as the second President from 1991 to 1992.
Prince Souphanouvong, nicknamed the Red Prince, was along with his half-brother Prince Souvanna Phouma and Prince Boun Oum of Champasak, one of the "Three Princes" who represented respectively the communist (pro-Vietnam), neutralist and royalist political factions in Laos. He was the figurehead President of Laos from December 1975 to August 1991.
The Kingdom of Laos was a constitutional monarchy that ruled Laos beginning with its independence on 9 November 1953. It survived until December 1975, when its last king, Sisavang Vatthana, surrendered the throne to the Pathet Lao, who abolished the monarchy in favour of a Marxist–Leninist state called the Lao People's Democratic Republic, which has controlled Laos ever since.
Sisavang Phoulivong was king of the Kingdom of Luang Phrabang and later the Kingdom of Laos from 28 April 1904 until his death on 29 October 1959.
Luang Phabang, or Louangphabang, commonly transliterated into Western languages from the pre-1975 Lao spelling ຫຼວງພຣະບາງ as Luang Prabang, literally meaning "Royal Buddha Image", is a city in north central Laos, consisting of 58 adjacent villages, of which 33 comprise the UNESCO Town Of Luang Prabang World Heritage Site. It was listed in 1995 for unique and "remarkably" well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, a blend of the rural and urban developments over several centuries, including the French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Prince Phetsarath Ratanavongsa (Somdej Chao Maha Uparaja Petsaraj Ratanavongsa was the 1st Prime Minister of Luang Phrabang in French Laos from 21 August 1941 to 10 October 1945, and Head of State of Laos between 12 October 1945 and 4 April 1946.
Prince Souvanna Phouma was the leader of the neutralist faction and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Laos several times.
Sisavang Vatthana or sometimes Savang Vatthana was the last king of the Kingdom of Laos and the 6th Prime Minister of Laos serving from 29 October to 21 November 1951. He ruled from 1959 after his father's death until his forced abdication in 1975. His rule ended with the takeover by the Pathet Lao in 1975, after which he and his family were sent to a re-education camp by the new government.
Phoumi Vongvichit was a leading figure of the Pathet Lao and an elder statesman of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
The Laotian Civil War (1959–1975) was a civil war in Laos which was waged between the Communist Pathet Lao and the Royal Lao Government from 23 May 1959 to 2 December 1975. It is associated with the Cambodian Civil War and the Vietnam War, with both sides receiving heavy external support in a proxy war between the global Cold War superpowers. It is called the Secret War among the CIA Special Activities Center and Hmong and Mien veterans of the conflict.
The French protectorate of Laos was a French protectorate in Southeast Asia of what is today Laos between 1893 and 1953—with a brief interregnum as a Japanese puppet state in 1945—which constituted part of French Indochina. It was established over the Siamese vassal, the Kingdom of Luang Phrabang, following the Franco-Siamese War in 1893. It was integrated into French Indochina and in the following years further Siamese vassals, the Principality of Phuan and Kingdom of Champasak, were annexed into it in 1899 and 1904, respectively.
Prince Somsanith Vongkotrattana was the Prime Minister of Laos in 1960.
Katay Don Sasorith was a Laotian nationalist, politician, author, and the 8th Prime Minister of Laos.
The Kingdom of Luang Phrabang was formed in 1707 as a result of the split of the Kingdom of Lan Xang. When The kingdom split, Muang Phuan became a tributary state of Luang Prabang. Then as the years passed, the monarchy weakened even more, that it was forced to become a vassal various times to the Burmese and the Siamese monarchies.
In the northern-hemisphere summer of 1940 Germany rapidly defeated the French Third Republic, and colonial administration of French Indochina passed to the French State. In September 1940 Japanese troops first entered parts of Indochina; and in July 1941 Japan extended its control over the whole of French Indochina. The United States, concerned by Japanese expansion, started putting embargoes on exports of steel and oil to Japan from July 1940. The desire to escape these embargoes and to become self-sufficient in resources ultimately contributed to Japan's decision to attack on December 7, 1941 the British Empire and simultaneously the USA and at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii). This led to the USA declaring war against Japan on December 8, 1941. The US then joined the British Empire, already at war with Germany since 1939, and its existing allies in the fight against the Axis powers.
General Sing Rattanasamay (1912–1973) was one of the officers who founded the Royal Lao Army (RLA). Originally a policeman, he joined the anti-Japanese resistance during World War II, and the anti-French Lao Issara from 1946–1949. He subsequently joined the nascent RLA, and went on to serve the Kingdom of Laos until just prior to his death in 1973.
Kou Voravong was a Laotian politician. He was part of the anti-Japanese resistance leading group during the Second World War and after then anti-Lao Issara (ລາວອິດສລະ) in the post-war period. Throughout his career, from 1941 to 1954, he has been District Chief, Province Governor, member of the Lao National Assembly, and Royal Lao Government Minister.
Reviewed by Donald S. Zagoria, Foreign affairs Summer 1986 Issue: Formerly a journalist, with wide experience in Southeast Asia, Arthur Dommen is the United States' leading expert on Laos.
In October 1953, the Franco-Lao Treaty of Amity and Association transferred power....