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1st President of Laos
In office
2 December 1975 – 15 August 1991
Prime Minister Kaysone Phomvihane
Succeeded by Phoumi Vongvichit
Personal details
Born July 13, 1909 (1909-07-13)
Luang Phrabang, Laos
Died January 9, 1995 (1995-01-10) (aged 86)
Political party PRPL
Spouse(s) Viengkham Souphanouvong

Prince Souphanouvong (July 13, 1909 – January 9, 1995) was, along with his half-brother Prince Souvanna Phouma and Prince Boun Oum of Champasak, one of the “Three Princes” who represented respectively the communist (pro-Vietnam), neutralist, and royalist political factions in Laos. He was the figurehead President of Laos from December 1975 to August 1991.

Souphanouvong was one of the sons of Prince Bounkhong, the last vice-king of Luang Prabang. Unlike his half-brothers, Souvanna Phouma and Phetsarath, whose mothers were of royal birth, his mother was a commoner, Mom Kham Ouane.

Educated in France and Vietnam, he eventually became a supporter of Ho Chi Minh and joined the Indochinese communist movement. In August 1950, Souphanouvong convened the first congress of the Lao Freedom Front (Neo Lao Issara) — more generally known as the Pathet Lao – which served as the vehicle for the communist challenge to French rule. He was the chairman of the Neo Lao Issara (since 1956, Neo Lao Hak Xat) and Resistance Government.

Nicknamed “The Red Prince”, he became the figurehead leader of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, and upon its successful seizure of power in 1975, he became the first President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (and President of the Supreme People's Assembly), a position which he held until 1991.[1] After 1986, Phoumi Vongvichit acted in his stead as president, though Souphanouvong still technically remained President. Kaysone Phomvihane succeeded as president in 1991.

In 1991, he became an Adviser of Party's Central Committee. Souphanouvong died on 9 January 1995 at the age of 86.[2]

Souphanouvong spoke eight languages, including Greek and Latin. He worked on the ports of Le Havre before taking his engineering degree from the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.


  1. ^ Souphanouvong, Prince. The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. Columbia University Press
  2. ^ Souphanouvong, "red prince'' of Laos, dies aged 86. (1995-01-12). Retrieved on 2013-11-17.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
President of Laos
Phoumi Vongvichit acting from 1986 to 1991

Succeeded by
Kaysone Phomvihane
Party political offices
Preceded by
President of the Lao Front for National Construction
Succeeded by
Phoumi Vongvichit