AN INTRODUCTION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF LAO PDR

 

Background

The Lao people fought for their independence from the 18th Century until the Lao people’s Revolutionary Party eventually liberated the country in 1975 with the founding of the Lao people’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and the establishment of the Supreme People’s Assembly (later re-named the National Assembly) by a Nationwide People’s Representative Congress. In terms of the Amended Constitution of the Lao PDR (2003), the National Assembly (NA) is the representative of the rights, powers and interests of the multi-ethnic people. The NA is also the legislative branch that has the right to make decisions on fundamental issues of the country, and to oversee the activities of the executive organs, the People’s Courts and the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

 

History of the National Assembly

The Supreme People's Assembly First Legislature had 45 members, of whom four were women. The First Legislature had three committees: the Constitution Drafting Committee, the Presidential Decrees and Election Laws Drafting Committee and the Planning and State Budget Committee. The role of the First Legislature of the Supreme People's Assembly was to build solidarity among all ethnic groups in the country in order to meet two objectives: to safeguard and build the Nation. The First Legislature achieved its political role in mobilizing and in building solidarity among all the people as well as safeguarding the benefits of the struggle for independence, by restoring the economy and the socio-cultural environment and in improving the postwar living conditions of all ethnic groups.

In addition, the People's Supreme Assembly, First legislature, adopted the Lao first 5 years Plan of Socioeconomic Development (1980-1985) and a number of new laws, such as the Law on the Council of Ministers, the Law on Local Administration Authority and the Law on Foreign Investment. The Assembly also deliberated other important issues for the Nation.

On March 26, 1989 Lao people elected the People's Supreme Assembly Second Legislature, comprising of 75 members, of whom five were women. His Excellency Nouhak PHOUMSAVANH was appointed President, assisted by five permanent members in the Standing Committee and five committees: the Constitution and Law Decrees Drafting Committee, the Economy, Planning and Finance Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Cultural and Social Affairs Committee and the Cabinet of the Supreme People's Assembly. People's Assemblies existed at provincial and district levels.

The most important achievement of the People's Supreme Assembly Second Legislature was to fulfill its political role in drafting the first Constitution of the Lao PDR which was adopted on August 14, 1991, by the sixth ordinary session of the People's Supreme Assembly Second Legislature. The Second Legislature adopted 22 new and actively implemented a foreign relations policy that aimed to enhance cooperation with parliamentary organizations at international and regional level with friendly countries.

The Lao PDR was admitted as a full member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) during its 83th meeting in Cyprus; was an observer of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization (AIPO) and formed the Laos-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Association.

On December 20, 1992, members of the Third Legislature were elected and the Supreme People's Assembly changed is name to the National Assembly. The National Assembly, as a legislative organ, implements its rights and duties defined in the Constitution and the Laws on the National Assembly. The Third Legislature did not have regional assemblies and worked only at national level.

The National Assembly Third Legislature was comprised of 85 Members, of whom eight were women. The Third Legislature had His Excellency Samane VIGNAKET as President, two Vice-President, a seven-member Standing Committee and six Committees. Moreover, the National Assembly Cabinet assisted the Committee in their work.

During its term, the National Assembly Third Legislature organized nine ordinary and extraordinary sessions. The major issues deliberated by the National Assembly were: the definition and implementation of the public administration reform at central level; the adoption of the socioeconomic development of three laws; the establishment of groups of members and National Assembly offices in every constituency and the expansion of foreign relations policy.

During its twenty years of existence, improvements and progress were made and the National Assembly through its three legislatures has successfully performed its rights and duties. The performance of each National Assembly legislature has been and important factor in the development of the Nation, especially during the renovation process of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and each legislature has gradually contributed to the construction and strengthening of the People's Republic government.

The Fourth Legislature of the National Assembly was started on December, 1997 and comprised of 99 members, 21 of whom are women. His Excellency Samane VIGNAKET has been reappointed President and three Vice-Presidents have been nominated, including a woman.

The Fifth Legislature was elected in 2002 for 5 years term until 2006. This Legislature had 109 members of whom 25 were women accounting to 22.9% of the membership. It composed of 7 members Standing Committee, and 6 functional committees. The Fifth Legislature amended the Constitution, and has so far adopted 11 new laws and amended 14 laws, including adoption of the law on oversight. It has also recently embarked on producing official English translations of the Constitution and laws of Lao PDR to enhance the investment climate in the country. The Fifth Legislature has also approved an additional phase of the technical support by the UNDP and European Union (EU) to further strength the representative, legislative and oversight capacity of the NA.

The Sixth Legislature was established in 2006, consisted of the 115 NA members, including 25 percent of the women parliamentarians. The number of the NA members has been increasing since the First Legislature, and the gender balance has been constantly enhanced.

The election of the VII Legislature of the National Assembly was held in 2011 with a process of the enhancement of democratic right of Lao citizens in selecting the qualified representatives determined by laws to perform representatively in implementing power of Lao-multi ethnic people within the NA. The current Legislature has 132 members of the National Assembly, of who are 33 female members account for 25% of the total number of the NA members.

 

The functions of the National Assembly:

The amended Constitution (2003) of the Lao PDR vests the NA with following rights and duties:

  • To prepare, adopt or amend the Constitution.
  • To consider, adopt, amend or abrogate the laws.
  • To consider and adopt the determination, amendment or abrogation of taxes and duties.
  • To consider and adopt strategic plans for socio-economic development and the State budget.
  • To elect or remove the President, the Vice-President and members of the National Assembly Standing Committee.
  • To elect or remove the President or Vice-President of the State based on the recommendation of the National Assembly Standing Committee.
  • To consider or approve the proposed appointment or removal of the Prime Minister based on the recommendation of the President of the State, and to consider and approve the organizational structure of the government and the appointment, transfer or removal of members of the government based on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
  • To elect or remove the President of the People’s Supreme Court and the Supreme Public Prosecutor based on the recommendation of the President of the State.
  • To decide on establishment or dissolution of the ministries, ministry-equivalent organizations, provincial authorities and city authorities and to determine the boundaries of provinces and cities based on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
  • To decide on granting amnesties.
  • To decide on the ratification of treaties and agreements signed with foreign countries in accordance with the laws.
  • To decide on matters of war or peace.
  • To oversee the observance and implementation of the Constitution and laws.
  • To exercise such other rights and performs such other duties as provided by the laws.

 

The Structure of the National Assembly

            The National Assembly is organized and functions in accordance with the Principle of democratic centralism. It carries out its work through meetings or sessions and takes decisions by the majority of votes.

 

The Standing Committee:

The Standing Committee of the National Assembly is the permanent body of the National Assembly. The Standing Committee substitutes for the National Assembly during the inter-sessions periods and consists of the 10 NA members (the President and 2 Vice-Presidents; the Chief of the Cabinet; the chairmen of the 6 committees), The Standing Committee is chaired by the President, and the Vice-Presidents are responsible for all day-to-day management decisions.

The Standing Committee of the National Assembly has the following rights and duties, to:

-          Interpret and convene the National Assembly session;

-          Interpret and explain provisions of the Constitution and laws;

-          Educate the people in order to enhance their conscious observance of the Constitution and laws;

-          Propose to the President of the State to issue decree laws and decrees;

-          Supervise and watch over the activities of the executive and judiciary bodies;
Decide on nationality matters;

-          Appoint or remove the Vice President of the People's Supreme Court, the Deputy People's General Prosecutor and the Judges of the People's Court at all levels;

-          Direct and guide the activities of the National Assembly Committees;

-          Ensure the National Assembly in carrying out its work as specified;

-          Create good working conditions for the National Assembly members to carry out their activities in accordance with their duties;

-          Exercise other rights and execute other duties as stipulated in the Standing Orders (General Orders) of the National Assembly.

The Seventh Legislature of the National Assembly functions through 6 Committees with separate functional mandates: the Law Committee; the Committee on Economy, Planning and Finance; the Committee on Social and Cultural Affairs; the Committee on Ethnic Affairs; the Committee on National Defense and Social Order and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In addition, the National Assembly Cabinet and Women Parliamentarian Caucus assist the Standing Committee and the other Committees.

There are 4 (four) types of National Assembly sessions: the Opening Session; Ordinary (Regular) Session; Extraordinary Session, Special session.
The National Assembly convenes its Ordinary (Regular) Session twice a Year, the First in February and the Second in September. The First Ordinary (Regular) Session of the National Assembly considers the general questions of the National Assembly; the Second Ordinary (Regular) Session has the duties, to:

1. Hear out and consider the reports on the Government's activities; consider and approve the strategic plan of socioeconomic development as well as the State Budget;

2. Hear out and consider the annual activity report of the People's Supreme Court and the People's General Prosecutor.

In addition, it may consider other important questions.

The National Assembly may convene Extraordinary or Special (Extra) Sessions by the decision of the National Assembly Standing Committee, or on recommendation of the President of the State, or of the Prime Minister, or least 1/4 (one fourth) of the total number of the members of the National Assembly. The Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly is convened during the 2 (two) Ordinary (Regular) Session of the National Assembly in order to consider and decide on urgent questions.

The Special (Extra) Session of the National Assembly may be convened in order to consider and decide on fortuitous and urgent questions of importance to the country.

The National Assembly session can be convened only with a quorum of more than (one half) of the total number of the National Assembly's members.

Membership to Inter. Parliamentary Organizations:

The National Assembly of Lao PDR has been admitted as a member of the key International Parliamentary Organizations as follows:

  1. ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in 1997;
  2. Inter. Parliamentary Union (IPU) in 1990;
  3. International Medical Parliamentarians’ Organization (IMPO) in 1994;
  4. Asia Pacific Parliamentarians’ Union (APPU) in 1994;
  5. Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) in 1996;
  6.  Assemblee Parlementaire De la Francophonie or APF (French Speaking Parliamentary Assembly) in 1996;
  7.  Asia Pacific Parliamentarians’ Conference on Environment and Development (APPCED) in 1998;
  8. Asia Parliamentary Assembly (APA) in 1999;
  9. Asia Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) in 2003;
  10. Inter-Parliamentarians on Social Services (IPSS) in 2007;
  11. Secretary General Forum of the Asia-Pacific Parliaments (SGFAPP) in 2009.

To promote the parliamentary relations and cooperation with friendly countries, the Lao National Assembly established the Parliamentarians Friendship Groups with other friendly countries for each N.A Legislature.

The National Assembly of Lao PDR

Thatluang Square

P.O Box 662, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Tel: (856-21) 413547, 413507, 911528

Fax: (856-21) 413547, 413515

Email: na_fad@na.gov.la, p_vongsa@yahoo.com

For further information, visit www.na.gov.la

 

 

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