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Laos Rejects Vang Pao's Overture


Click here fore Lao version/ຄລິກບ່ອນນີ້ເພື່ອອ່ານພາສາລາວ

Lao authorities have refused the former general ’s negotiation and reconciliation offer, dismissing him as utterly unimportant in their eyes besides being someone who has been sentenced to death by the Lao People's Court.

Vang Pao, top commander of the Hmong troops who fought against the Lao Communist Party before the fall of Vientiane in 1975 and now living in exile in the U.S., announced at the end of 2009 that he would be returning to Laos in early 2010, to try to close a long chapter of conflicts between Hmong resistance fighters in the hills of Laos and the current government in Vientiane. The former general now says his offer has been officially rejected by the Lao government.

A recent statement made by the Lao Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad not only indicated that Vang Pao’s plan to return, which was announced at his 80th birthday anniversary in front of some 1,000 Hmong in the U.S. will never be possible, but also showed that the Lao government still wants to carry out the death penalty against him in accordance with the sentence imposed on him decades ago by the Lao People's Court. Mr. Somsavat also repudiated reports that Vang Pao's return plan is being coordinated by an unnamed top Thai official and a member of the Lao Politburo, saying that there is absolutely no such a deal. Thai Foreign Ministry officials also denied any coordination for Vang Pao.

Reports say according to Vang Pao's intention as announced on December 22, 2009, he planned to travel to Thailand in January and would, if conditions allow, cross the Mekong River at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge from Nong Khai province into Vientiane.

The former general was also reportedly planning to invest in agricultural development in southern Laos. Reports said he would request a land lease from the Lao government of up to 10,000 hectares for Hmong people to do organic farming, in response to the Lao government’s announced policy to enhance cooperation with overseas Laotians and welcome them back to help rebuild the country.

However, based on Mr. Somsavat’s stated position, the Lao government still wishes to bring General Vang Pao back to Laos to face the death sentence imposed on him by Lao People's Court more than 30 years ago.

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