Huge voter turnout for General Election

By Somsack Pongkhao
May 2, 2011

President Choummaly Sayasone and his wife cast their votes during the General Election on Saturday.

Polling stations throughout Laos were crowded with people from early morning on Saturday as voters gathered to elect their representatives to the National Assembly (NA).

Throughout the day Lao National Television and National Radio broadcast the event live across the country.

National Television reported that rain in several provinces failed to deter people from casting their ballots to elect 132 NA members from 190 candidates.

Rain was reported in Xieng Khuang, Luang Prabang, Bokeo, Phongsaly and Attapeu provinces.

In Vientiane, most polling stations opened between 6:30am and 7am but many people arrived earlier so they wouldn’t have to wait around.

By early afternoon, voting in many villages of Vientiane was complete and authorities had started to count the votes.

By Sunday the vote count in some constituencies was complete and the results sent to the National Election Committee in Vientiane. In some provinces the count may be delayed due to heavy rain. It is hoped all the results will be known by the end of this week.

President Choummaly Sayasone cast his vote in Chansavang village, Sikhottabong district, where he gave an interview to Lao and foreign media.

He said he was proud to participate in the election and see so many people exercising their democratic right to elect NA members to represent them over the next five years.

“To better develop the nation we need to have appropriate representatives who understand the people and are willing to discuss issues and report the concerns of villagers to the relevant sectors for solution,” he said.

The president said that in the next five years, the Party has set high goals for the country’s development and poverty reduction to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and relieve Laos of its least developed country status in 2020.

“Our Party plan is to reduce the poverty rate of Lao families to less than 10 percent so we need to have good and appropriate NA members to ensure all the goals are achieved,” he said.

This requires that villagers talk frankly with their representatives regarding their concerns as well as the kinds of development they need and how the government can assist in alleviating poverty.

In response to questions from foreign media, Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong said most of the candidates have strong knowledge and abilities and are capable of working for the benefit of Laos’ multi-ethnic society.

When asked about the hope that women would take 30 percent of seats in the NA, he said that decision was up to the voters.

The election was conducted in a joyful atmosphere with full security and order.

The overall objectives of the election are to strengthen the state apparatus and enhance state authority, strengthen Party leadership, and make the work of the state more effective and efficient, and to ensure the state is an authority of the people, by the people and for the people.

Voting was divided into 17 constituencies with 6,324 polling units.

The majority of the 3.2 million eligible voters were excited about the prospect of electing their representatives. Anyone at least 18 years old was eligible to vote, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religious belief, social status or profession.

As the NA plays an important role in overseeing the performance of the executive and judicial bodies, every effort was made to ensure all those eligible were able to vote, and hospital patients were no exception.

The 190 candidates comprised representatives of the government, local level, mass organisations and state and private enterprises, as well as members of the NA’s 6th Legislature.

A general election is held every five years, and the previous election was held in 2006.

Following the election, the NA’s preliminary session will soon be held in Vientiane when the new Assembly president and the president and vice president of Laos and government members will be approved by the newly-elected members.

Source

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