Country Report Laos June 2009

The political scene: The government relaxes restrictions on civil society

The ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) continues to cautiously relax restrictions on civil society as the country develops a middle class with time to devote to social causes. From November local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will be permitted in Laos, following a new prime ministerial decree. According to the decree, which was approved in late April, a group of two or more people may apply to form an NGO. Applicants must obtain permission from the "government sectors concerned", before submitting an application to the Public Administration and Civil Service Authority if in the capital, Vientiane, or to the provincial authority if based in one of the country's 16 provinces. The government's decision to relax the controls on civil society follows many years of lobbying by international agencies, particularly the UN.

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