General Interest

Presidential Term Limits Discussed At Constitution-Amendment Seminar

Policy developers have debated whether the term of office served by the President of the Lao PDR should be indicated in the Constitution, to specify that the president is permitted to serve not more than two consecutive terms.

Policy makers from various sectors in Vientiane including universities met at a two-day scientific seminar in the capital organised by the National Committee in charge of the amendment of the Lao Constitution.

The existing Constitution, which has been amended once in 2003, does not indicate how many terms the president is permitted to serve. Neither is the term of office spelt out in any law or regulation.

The seminar, which ended yesterday, also discussed the length of each term to be held by the president. The current Constitution indicates that the president has a five-year term similar to that held by the National Assembly (NA)’s legislature.

Former President Souphanouvong, the country’s first president after the Lao PDR was proclaimed on December 2, 1975, is the only one among five presidents to date to have held office for more than two terms. President Souphanouvong held office for 16 years from 1975-1991.

Presided over by committee Chairwoman Ms Pany Yathortou, who is also President of the National Assembly, the two-day sitting shared ideas on amending the Constitution in six main areas.

One of these was Chapter 5 concerning the mandate and role of the NA as well as the envisioned intention to establish a People’s Assembly (parliament) at the provincial and capital levels or local assemblies.
The scope of work, responsibilities and power of the local assemblies was also debated.

Amendments to chapters on the mandate and role of the President, government and local administrations were also discussed along with amendments to the chapter concerning the People’s Court and People’s Prosecutor.

With a view to including state auditing affairs in the Constitution, seminar participants shared ideas about adding the role, mandate and related affairs of the state auditing sector to the draft amendment.

Committee member Dr Davone Vangvichith, who is also Chairman of the NA’s Committee on Law, said similar seminars will be held in all parts of the country. Policy makers from various sectors in the northern, central and southern parts of Laos will be invited to share their ideas.

The outcomes of these seminars will be taken into account in drawing up the draft amendment of the Constitution. If completed in time, final draft of the amended Constitution will be submitted to the biannual ordinary session of the NA which should take place in December, Dr Davone said.

If the final draft is not completed before the ordinary session, the NA is expected to hold an extraordinary session to debate the final draft of the amended Constitution so that it can be approved.

Source: Vientiane Times