March 16, 2011Starting as early as 6am yesterday, delegates to the 9th Party Congress climbed aboard buses that would take them to lay wreaths and pay their respects at the Unknown Soldier Monument at That Luang, despite the heavy rain.
Their early start to the day reflected their eagerness ahead of the Congress which opens in Vientiane today and will be attended by more than 500 delegates representing Party members nationwide.
As the morning traffic built up, the buses headed to the Kaysone Phomvihane Museum, and traffic police stopped commuters to allow them easy passage.
Undeterred by the rain, the delegates placed bouquets of flowers at the Kaysone Phomvihane statue in tribute to the people’s hero who devoted his life to the cause of national liberation and the prosperity of the Lao people.
A scheduled media interview with delegates on noteworthy developments in their respective provinces had to be cancelled due to the inclement weather.
In the afternoon, the delegates visited Thanalaeng railway station in Hadxaifong district. The 3.5-km track opened several years ago with financing of about 45 billion kip (more than 170 million baht) from the Thai government. Thirty percent of the cost was a gift and the remainder a loan.
Vientiane is now adorned with flowers, lights and signs to welcome the Congress. Local authorities and residents have been working together to keep the city clean and orderly to ensure the event is a success.
The Party Congress is the most important event in Lao politics and takes place every five years.
The 9th Party Congress will run until March 21 and be attended by 576 delegates representing more than 191,700 Party members throughout the country.
Following today’s opening, political and economic reports will be presented, highlighting the development achievements of the last five years under the leadership of the Party.
The Congress will also set directives for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and graduation from least developed country status by 2020.
Representatives from provincial Party Committees will have the opportunity to speak and highlight the particular achievements of their provinces over the past five years.
The Congress will elect a new Executive Committee of the Party Central Committee, which will continue to give directives and guidelines for the country’s development based on the resolution to be approved during the proceedings.
The 9th Congress takes place as the economy continues to grow, poverty declines, and living standards improve.
Over the past five years, the economy grew at an average of 7.9 percent with per capita income of about 8.7 million kip. Economic growth from 2011 to 2015 is projected to reach 8 percent annually, with per capita income forecast to reach US$1,700.