Prince Souphanouvong (13 July 1909 – 9 January 1995) was, along with his half-brother Prince Souvanna Phouma and Prince Boun Oum of Champasak, one of the "Three Princes" who represented respectively the communist (pro-Vietnam), neutralist and royalist political factions in Laos. He was the figurehead President of Laos from December 1975 to August 1991.

President of Laos
In office
2 December 1975 – 29 October 1986
Prime MinisterKaysone Phomvihane
Preceded byOffice Established
Succeeded byPhoumi Vongvichit (Acting)
President of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
In office
2 December 1975 – 31 October 1986
Preceded byOffice Established
Succeeded bySisomphon Lovansay (acting)
Personal details
Born13 July 1909 (1909-07-13)
Luang Phrabang, Laos
Died9 January 1995 (1995-01-10) (aged 85)
Vientiane, Laos
Political partyLao People's Revolutionary Party
Spouse(s)Viengkham Souphanouvong

Souphanouvong was one of the sons of Prince Bounkhong, the last viceroy of Luang Prabang. Unlike his half-brothers, Souvanna Phouma and Phetsarath Ratanavongsa, whose mothers were of royal birth, his mother was a commoner, Mom Kham Ouane.

Educated in France and Vietnam,[1] he eventually became a supporter of Ho Chi Minh and joined the Indochinese communist movement. In August 1950, Souphanouvong convened the first congress of the Lao Freedom Front (Neo Lao Issara), more generally known as the Pathet Lao, which served as the vehicle for the communist challenge to French rule. He was the chairman of the Neo Lao Issara (since 1956, Neo Lao Hak Xat) and Resistance Government.

He participated in the coalition governments with royalists in the first coalition 1957, second coalition 1962 and third coalition in 1973.[1]

He was elected President of National Assembly from 1958 to 1959 following the success in the 1958 elections.[1]

Nicknamed "The Red Prince", he became part of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party. Upon its successful seizure of power in 1975, he became the first President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, a position which he held until 1991.[2] After 1986, Phoumi Vongvichit acted in his stead as president, though Souphanouvong still technically remained President. Kaysone Phomvihane succeeded as president in 1991. He was the President of the Supreme People's Assembly from 1975 to 1988.[3]

In 1991, he became an Adviser of Party's Central Committee. Souphanouvong died 86.[4]

Souphanouvong spoke eight languages, including Greek and Latin.[citation needed] He worked in the ports of Le Havre before studying for an engineering degree from the École nationale des ponts et chaussées.

His son, Khamsay Souphanouvong escaped the country and applied for political asyum in New Zealand in 2000.

Honours and AwardsEdit


  1. ^ a b c Stuart-Fox, Martin. "Historical Dictionary of Laos". ISBN 978-0-8108-5624-0.
  2. ^ Souphanouvong, Prince. The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. Columbia University Press
  3. ^ Speakers
  4. ^ Souphanouvong, "red prince'' of Laos, dies aged 86. (1995-01-12). Retrieved on 2013-11-17.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Sisavang Vatthana
as King of Laos
President of Laos
Phoumi Vongvichit acting from 1986 to 1991

Succeeded by
Kaysone Phomvihane
Party political offices
Preceded by
President of the Lao Front for National Construction
Succeeded by
Phoumi Vongvichit