Politics. – The new president of the Laos, Choummaly Sayasone, assumed the post of head of state on June 8, 2006. According to the formula of indirect election, the Laotian population was called to the polls to elect the new National Assembly, which in its once the country’s president voted. The elections, which were not monitored by any international organization, saw – according to official figures – a turnout of 99.76%. Even before his election as head of state, Sayasone was a central figure in the Lao political landscape, having held the role of Defense Minister from 1991 to 2001 and vice-president from 2001 to 2006; the continuity demonstrated by the choice to elect Sayasone therefore highlighted a further consolidation in power of the Revolutionary Party of the Laotian people.
This dominance was confirmed by the elections of April 2011, in which the Laotian People’s Revolutionary Party won 128 of the 132 seats in the National Assembly; while Sayasone was re-elected head of state the following June. Parliament became more and more active from a political point of view and in defining the government agenda; from an economic point of view, the country continued to grow at a rapid pace – around 8% between 2011 and 2013 – although it slowed down slightly in 2014 (+ 7.4%).
In foreign policy, cooperation with Thailand had controversial developments regarding the population of the Hmong ethnic minority. From 2007 to 2009, more than 4000 refugees in Thailand were forcibly repatriated to Laos, without particular reactions from the international community. Cooperation with the United States also continued and in July 2012, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country for the first time in 57 years. This opportunity allowed Washington to express a negative opinion regarding the construction of a dam on the Mekong River. However, despite the contrary opinion of the United States, Cambodia and Vietnam, the project was approved in November 2012. In February 2013, the Laos joined the World Trade Organization.
According to Localcollegeexplorer, the archaeological sequence beyond the Mekong, on the Khorat plateau, revealed that the first agricultural communities began to occupy the riparian lowlands from the 3rd millennium BC; subsequently, between 1500 and 1000 BC, the presence of the first bronze artefacts is attested. On the right bank of the Mekong, on the border with the Laos, a vast complex for the extraction of copper was found in Phu Lon (Thailand). Laos must have participated in these two cultural phases, but the evidence is absent until the settlement (500 BC) of communities that worked iron. Tam Hua Pu’s burials contained a bronze hatchet, sickles and knives and beads of carnelian and glass necklace. Iron bracelets were found instead in a burial of Tam Nang An. Excavations in Lao Pako have shown that an area of the site was intended for iron forging, while terracotta spindles document the existence of a textile craft. In the mountainous regions of the northern Truong Son mountain range, a series of sites have been investigated characterized by the presence of large stone funerary jars and lithic slabs placed in vertical position (or menhir): Phon Savanh is the most important and intact site, which dominates a extensive area known as the Plain of Jars. The funerary offerings include glass beads and carnelian, shells, bells, bronze bracelets and knives, arrowheads and iron spearheads; the dating is between 300 BC and 300 AD In the Mekong delta the presence of cities and rulers is documented starting from 150 AD.