Kaysone Phomvihane

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Kaysone Phomvihane
ໄກສອນ ພົມວິຫານ
Kaysone in 1978
General Secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party
In office
22 March 1955 – 21 November 1992
Succeeded byKhamtai Siphandon
2nd President of Laos
In office
15 August 1991 – 21 November 1992
Prime MinisterKhamtai Siphandon
Preceded byPhoumi Vongvichit (Acting)
Succeeded byNouhak Phoumsavanh
11th Prime Minister of Laos
In office
8 December 1975 – 15 August 1991
Phoumi Vongvichit (Acting)
Preceded bySouvanna Phouma
Succeeded byKhamtai Siphandon
Personal details
BornNguyễn Cai Song
(1920-12-13)13 December 1920
Savannakhet, French Indochina
Died21 November 1992(1992-11-21) (aged 71)
Vientiane, Laos
Political partyLao People's Revolutionary Party
SpouseThongvin Phomvihane
Children4, including Saysomphone, Thongsavanh
a. ^ General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Party until February 1972; General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party until March 1991; Chairman of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party since March 1991

Kaysone Phomvihane (Lao: ໄກສອນ ພົມວິຫານ, pronounced ; 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.


Materials used by Kaysone Phomvihane in an oath-taking ceremony in 1948 Kaysone Phomvihane Museum Kaysone Phomvihane on a 2000 kip banknote from 2011

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.

He attended law school at University of Indochina in Hanoi alongside fellow future revolutionary Nouhak Phoumsavan, but dropped out to fight the French colonialists in Vietnam. Later, he joined the Pathet Lao movement.

He became an active revolutionary while studying in Hanoi during the 1940s, establishing the Lao People's Liberation Army (LPLA) on 20 January 1949 and becoming the Minister of Defense of the Resistance Government (Neo Lao Issara) from 1950. In 1955, he was instrumental in setting up the LPRP at Xam Neua in the north, and subsequently served as the Pathet Lao leader. For several years, he mostly stayed in the background, with 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 seized control of the country. At a National Conference of People's Representatives that opened on December 1, Kaysone declared the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of 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, while he was named prime minister, which he held until becoming president in 1991. Along the way, he married Thongvin 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 journalists, the border is "very close" to the 1945 French-made border between Laos and Annam.

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 was "the top policy maker and a strongman in the LPDR". He created Sekong Province to honour the southern minority for their support in the war effort.

Kaysone died in Vientiane on 21 November 1992. After his death, the government of Laos built a museum in his honor, partially funded by Vietnam.

In 2012, his cremated ashes were transferred from their original resting place to the newly built National Cemetery.


Kaysone had four sons: Saysomphone, Thongsavanh, Sanyahak, and Santiphap, all of whom went on to hold important positions in the LPRP. Saysomphone served as President of the Lao Front for National Construction and currently serves as President of the National Assembly. Thongsavanh is the head of the LPRP External Relations Committee. Sanyahak 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 on 19 July 2013 at the age of 45. Santiphap currently serves as Governor of Savannakhet Province.

Foreign honours

See also


  1. ^ "English Dictionary - Grammar - Phomvihane". Collins English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 8 December 2023. Retrieved 8 December 2023.
  2. ^ Asia & Pacific Review. Published by World of Information, 1994, ISBN 0-7494-1069-8, pg 117
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ "Former President Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Museum". Visiting Arts, Laos Cultural Profile. Archived from the original on December 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  5. ^ Tappe, Oliver (6 April 2012). "Revolutionary remains". New Mandala. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  6. ^ "Rising Laos political star dies". Retrieved 28 July 2018.