Nouhak Phoumsavanh

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Nouhak Phoumsavanh
ໜູຮັກ ພູມສະຫວັນ
Nouhak Phoumsavan.jpg
3rd President of Laos
In office
25 November 1992 – 24 February 1998
Prime Minister Khamtay Siphandon
Vice President Sisavath Keobounphanh
Preceded by Kaysone Phomvihane
Succeeded by Khamtai Siphandon
Personal details
Born 9 April 1910
Ban Phalouka, Mukdahan Province, Thailand
Died 9 September 2008 (aged 98)
Vientiane
Political party Lao People's Revolutionary Party

Nouhak Phoumsavanh or Phoumsavan (Lao: ໜູຮັກ ພູມສະຫວັນ; Thai: หนูฮัก พูมสะหวัน; April 9, 1910[1] – September 9, 2008) was a longtime Pathet Lao revolutionary and communist party official who was the 3rd President of Laos from 1992 to 1998.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Nouhak was born in Ban Phalouka in Mukdahan Province, Thailand in 1910, according to official sources,[1] although his year of birth has also been given as 1914.[2] He married his first wife, Chanthome, in 1933 and they had four children, Phouthone, Phonesavanh, Khankeo and a son. He later remarried in 1944 to Bounema, who was of Vietnamese descent. He was a founding member of the Lao revolutionary movement in 1945, and he became Chairman of the Lao Resistance Committee for the Eastern Region in 1949. In the Lao Resistance Government, he was named Minister of Finance in 1950. He participated in the founding congress of the Lao People's Party (later renamed the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, LPRP) in 1955 and was elected as the second-ranking member of its Central Committee (Deputy Director of the Central Committee).[1]

Nouhak was subsequently the secretary of the Lao People's Party cell in Vientiane, the capital, and was a member of the National Assembly in 1958. He was arrested in 1959[1] and spent a year in prison in Vientiane before escaping along with Souphanouvong.[2] He was then secretary of the party cell in Khangkhay and had important roles in the party during the 1960s and 1970s, while the Laotian Civil War was ongoing. He was elected to the Politburo at the LPRP's 2nd Congress in February 1972 and was assigned responsibility for economic affairs.[1]

When the Pathet Lao took power in December 1975,[2] Nouhak was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister[1] and Minister of Finance.[1][2] For years, he was considered "Number 2" in the leadership under Prime Minister Kaysone Phomvihane.[2] He was elected as First Vice-Chairman of the Council of Ministers in April 1982, then as a standing member of the Council of Ministers in charge of economic affairs in November 1986. Nouhak was subsequently elected to the Supreme People's Assembly in 1989 and became President of the Supreme People's Assembly in the same year; also in 1989, he was chosen as chairman of the commission charged with drafting a new constitution,[1] which was adopted in 1991. With the adoption of this constitution, Kaysone assumed the presidency, which was transformed from a ceremonial to an executive position.[citation needed] After Kaysone's death,[2] Nouhak was elected to succeed him as President of Laos by the Supreme People's Assembly in an extraordinary session on November 25, 1992.[1]

Despite the presidency's executive powers, Prime Minister Khamtai Siphandon held the country's most powerful position as General Secretary of the LPRP. When Khamtai decided to move from Prime Minister to President in 1998, Nouhak Phoumsavanh—who was by then one of the oldest heads of state in the world—retired,[citation needed] leaving office on February 24, 1998.[1]

Nouhak remained on the Central Committee and Politburo of the LPRP until the party's 6th Congress in 1996. At the 6th Congress in 1996 and the 7th Congress in 2001, he was named as Adviser to the Central Committee's Executive Committee.[1] He reportedly remained in good health throughout his old age, and he was said to have continued making visits to the provinces by helicopter until 2007.[2] He died on September 9, 2008 at the age of 98.[2][3][4][5] The state news agency attributed his death simply to "old age", while noting that he had received medical treatment both in Laos and outside the country.[4] A committee of 26 members, including leading party and state figures (with President Choummaly Sayasone as its chairman), was formed to organize his funeral, and a five-day national mourning period was declared for September 10–14, during which time all entertainment was prohibited.[6] He was cremated in Vientiane on September 14.[4]

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Kaysone Phomvihane
President of Laos
1992–1998
Succeeded by
Khamtai Siphandon