By Scott Bobb Bangkok 21 March 2006
The president of Laos, Khamtai Siphandone has stepped down as head of the ruling Communist Party and been replaced by Vice President Choummali Saignasone who is likely to become the next president after elections next month.
The Lao Communist Party announced the transfer of power Tuesday at the end of its regular, five-year congress in the capital, Vientiane.
Government spokesman Yong Chantalangsy said Lao President Khamtai Siphandone asked to retire as head of the party. Vice President Choummali Saignasone was chosen to replace him as the party's leader.
"In the first meeting of the Central Committee, Mr. Choummali Saignasone has been elected as the new general-secretary of the party," said spokesman Yong.
A new National Assembly that is to be elected on April 30 will choose a new government and historically, the party general-secretary becomes president.