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Souphanouvong, Prince (1909–1995)

Justin Corfield


Leader of the Lao Issara (Free Lao) movement, Prince Souphanouvong, known as the Red Prince, led the Pathet Lao (Lao People) nationalist organization and was president of the country from December 2, 1975 to October 31, 1986. Born on July 13, 1909 at Luang Prabang, the royal capital of Laos, then part of French Indochina, Prince Souphanouvong was the son of Boun Khong, the viceroy of Luang Prabang. His mother was a concubine, hence he was not destined to inherit the social position of his brothers. Souphanouvong earned a degree in engineering in Paris from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, returning to Laos in 1938. Appointed to a position in the colonial bureaucracy in Vietnam, he met with Hô Chi Minh , by that time a leading Vietnamese nationalist. Souphanouvong was influenced greatly by Hô Chi Minh's ideas of national liberation and socialism. Upon his return to Laos, he founded the Lao Issara movement. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Souphanouvong helped establish a provisional government in Laos, which was overthrown one year later when the French reasserted power over the entire country. Souphanouvong fled to Thailand and, in 1950, helped form the Pathet Lao, a radical communist-influenced nationalist organization. In the last stages of the First Indochina War between nationalists and French colonialists, in 1952 and 1953, Souphanouvong took part in a combined ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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