Kaysone Phomvihane (Lao: ໄກສອນ ພົມວິຫານ; 13 December 1920 – 21 November 1992) was the first leader of the Communist Lao People's Revolutionary Party from 1955 until his death in 1992. After the Communists seized power in the wake of the Laotian Civil War, he was the de facto leader of Laos from 1975 until his death. He served as the first Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic from 1975 to 1991 and then as the second President from 1991 to 1992.
Kaysone was born Nguyễn Cai Song (although he also used the name Nguyễn Trí Mưu for a short period in the 1930s) in Na Seng village, Khanthabouli district, French Indochina (now Kaysone Phomvihane District, Savannakhet Province, Laos). His father, Nguyễn Trí Loan, was Vietnamese and his mother, Nang Dok, was Lao. He had two sisters: Nang Souvanthong, living in Thailand, and Nang Kongmany, who lived in the USA.
Kaysone attended law school at University of Indochina in Hanoi, with Nouhak Phoumsavan. He dropped out of law school to fight the French colonialists who were in Vietnam. Later, he joined the Pathet Lao movement, which was also fighting the French colonialists.
Materials used by Kaysone Phomvihane in an oath-taking ceremony in 1948
He became an active revolutionary while studying in the Indochinese capital of Hanoi (now the capital of Vietnam) during the 1940s. The Lao People's Liberation Army (LPLA) was established by Kaysone Phomvihane on January 20, 1949. He was minister of defence of Resistance Government (of the Neo Lao Issara) from 1950. In 1955 he was instrumental in setting up the LPRP at Sam Neua in northern Laos, and subsequently served as the Pathet Lao leader. For several years, he mostly stayed in the background, with "Red Prince" Souphanouvong serving as the Pathet Lao's figurehead. In the years which followed, he led communist forces against the Kingdom of Laos and U.S. forces.
Kaysone came out of the shadows in December 1975, shortly after the Pathet Lao took Vientiane and effectively seized control of the country. At a "National Conference of People's Representatives" that opened on December 1, Kaysone read a "political report" on abolishing the monarchy and declaring Laos a republic. The following day, on a motion by presiding officer Kaysone, the National Conference accepted King Sisavang Vatthana's abdication, abolished the monarchy, and proclaimed the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Kaysone nominated Souphanouvong as first president, and Kaysone was named prime minister. He held that post until becoming president in 1991, a post he held until his death in 1992. He married Thongvinh Phomvihane.
Under Kaysone's watch, the process of demarcating the border between Laos and Vietnam started in 1977 and finished in 2007. According to western journalist the Lao/Viet borderline is "very close" to the 1945 border between Laos and Tonkin and Annam, respectively.
According to Vatthana Pholsena, assistant professor of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore and author of the book "Post-war Laos", Kaysone Phomvihane was the top policy maker in LPDR, and a strongman. He created Sekong Province to honour the southern minority for their support in the war effort.
Kaysone Phomvihane Museum
Kaysone died in Laos's capital, Vientiane. After Kaysone's death, the government of Laos built a museum in Kaysone's honour in Vientiane, partially funded by Vietnam.
In 2012, his cremated ashes were transferred from their original resting place to the newly built National Cemetery.
Kaysone Phomvihane on the new 2000 kip
His younger son, Sanyahak Phomvihane, was elected to the LPRP Central Committee at the 8th LPRP Congress and became a Major General at the age of 40 in 2008. However, he suffered an early death, at the age of 45, on 19 July 2013. His elder son, Xaysomphone Phomvihane (born 10 October 1954) currently serves as President of the Lao Front for National Construction. His other son, Santiphap Phomvihane, currently serves as Governor of Savannakhet Province.
- ^ Asia & Pacific Review. Published by World of Information, 1994, ISBN 0-7494-1069-8, pg 117
- ^ Arthur J. Dommen, The Indochinese Experience of the French and the Americans: Nationalism and Communism in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, Indiana University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-253-33854-9, pg 181
- ^ "Former President Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Museum". Visiting Arts, Laos Cultural Profile. Archived from the original on December 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- ^ Tappe, Oliver (6 April 2012). "Revolutionary remains". New Mandala. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
- ^ Limited, Bangkok Post Public Company. "Rising Laos political star dies". Retrieved 28 July 2018.