Laos. No political thunderstorm could be discerned when
new representatives were elected February 23 to the
country's parliament, the National Assembly. Of the 109
seats, the ruling Communist Party filled 108. According to
Countryaah website, the only
non-party candidate out of the 166 who stood in the election
was the Justice Minister, who was re-elected.
On average, the new parliament was younger and more
educated, which led the outside world to believe that a
rejuvenation would occur when the National Assembly elected
a new government a few weeks later. However, it turned out
that the old political line was stuck and almost the whole
old government remained.
In July, Laos, along with other countries in the region as
well as the United States, signed a declaration on
counter-terrorism. The agreement meant, among other things,
that the US could provide technical and financial assistance
to the region to combat terrorism and that the countries
would exchange information with each other.
The country received devastating criticism from the human
rights organization Amnesty International for its treatment
of prisoners. Torture is routine and people are arrested and
detained arbitrarily, according to Amnesty. The prisoners
also receive no medical care if needed.