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Three Ministers Replaced in Cabinet Reshuffle

Source: Vientiane Times

The National Assembly (NA)’s Standing Committee on Monday approved the replacement of three ministers in the latest cabinet reshuffle, following a proposal made by the Prime Minister.

Former Minister of Finance Bounchom Oubonpaseuth has been replaced by the former governor of Savannakhet province, Mr Santiphab Phomvihane. Mr Bounchom will take up a new post in Savannakhet province.

Former Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Daovong Phonekeo is replaced by the former governor of Saravan province, Mr Phoxay Sayasone. Dr Daovong will take up a new post in the province.  Former Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Viengsavath Siphandone was replaced by his deputy, Mr Ngampasong Muongmany. Dr Viengsavath will take up a new post in Luang Namtha province.

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Addressing a news conference on Monday, Vice President of the National Assembly, Ms Sounthone Xayachak, said the Standing Committee of the NA’s 9th legislature approved the cabinet reshuffle at its monthly meeting taking place on January 30-31. The approval was made following a proposal by the Prime Minister.

Under Article 26 of the Law on the National Assembly, the Standing Committee has the legal right to consider and endorse the appointment or transfer of cabinet members in essential cases proposed by the Prime Minister. The outcome in this regard shall be reported to the next ordinary session of the National Assembly for approval.    

The reshuffle comes less than a month after the NA’s 4th Ordinary Session elected Dr Sonexay Siphandone as Prime Minister to replace Mr Phankham Viphavanh.

The reshuffle takes place as Laos is struggling to overcome economic and financial hardships, driven largely by a high level of debt that has accumulated in recent decades. The sharp depreciation of the local currency, the kip, has also exacerbated the challenges facing Laos. In July last year, the NA’s 3rd Ordinary Session endorsed a reshuffle that saw the former Deputy Minister of Finance Dr Bounleua Sinxayvoravong appointed as the new Governor of the Bank of the Lao PDR, replacing Mr Sonexay Sitphaxay.

In addition, the former President of the State Audit Organisation, Mr Malaythong Kommasith, replaced Dr Khampheng Saysompheng as Minister of Industry and Commerce.

The latest reshuffle sees the governors of Savannakhet and Saravan replacing the ministers of finance, and energy and mines respectively, meaning that these provinces now face a leadership vacuum.

Under the Law on Provincial People’s Councils, new governors shall be endorsed by the People’s Councils in accordance with proposals made by the Council’s Standing Committee.

Provincial People’s Councils have organised and are preparing to organise ordinary sessions following the recent 4th ordinary session of the National Assembly.