Laotians go to polls to elect new National Assembly

14:20, April 30, 2011      

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Over 3.2 million voters throughout Laos will cast their ballots on Saturday to elect a new 132-member National Assembly, Laos' legislative arm.

During the one-day general election, the new assembly will be voted in from 190 shortlisted candidates representing the nation's 16 provinces and one prefecture, said Minister of Information and Culture Mounkeo Oraboun at a press conference on Friday ahead of the election.

"I am confident that this significant election will be conducted successfully," said Mounkeo, who is also a member of the National Election Committee.

Of the 190 candidates nominated by the Committee, 47 are central government staff, 143 are local-level officials, and 45 are incumbents of the previous assembly, four are representatives of state-owned enterprise and five are from private enterprises.

Forty-six candidates are women, while 140 are from the majority Lao-Tai ethnic group and 50 are from other ethnic groups.

The national assembly is the representative body of the Lao people, undertaking key policy, constitutional and legal decisions and overseeing the activities of the government.

Among the first tasks of the new assembly members will be to vote on a new State President and a new senior cabinet of the Lao government including the prime minister and all other ministers.

Around 50 percent of Laos' population of more than 6 million are eligible to vote in the election, the criteria being that they are above 18 years of age.

An extra 17 members will be elected on Saturday compared to the previous assembly, reflecting population growth.

Ballot boxes in remote areas of the country will be flown in to central offices for counting in the hope of releasing unofficial results Saturday, while official results are expected to be available next week.

The general election will appoint the seventh National Assembly since the founding of the Lao People's Democratic Republic on Dec. 2, 1975.

Source: Xinhua
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