334. Telegram From the Embassy in Laos to the Department of State1
2563. Reference: Embassy telegram 2555.2 As indicated reftel elections expected result in predominantly conservative Assembly but major hurdle of designation new premier and investiture his govt will still remain. Following supplements reftel and summarizes Embassy’s assessment and attendant recommendations for immediate short run posture to help ensure post electoral difficulties at least reduced if not eliminated.
1. Neither CDNI nor RPL will have majority in new Assembly permitting easy investiture PriMin from either group. RPL furthermore divided into pro-Souvanna and pro-Phoui factions. CDNI also split into pro and anti-Phoumi factions and CDNI President Ouan wavering between old loyalty to Souvanna and present tie-in with Phoumi. Yet CDNI, RPL must necessarily join forces if long drawn-out investiture delays to be avoided which could only benefit Commies.
That Embassy continue urge wisdom electoral committee’s persuading “extra” conservative candidates to withdraw in order bring total number down as close to 59 as possible. That Embassy continue push for closest RPL–CDNI collaboration, encouraging current RPL–CDNI negotiations for proposed merger into conservative national front which could far more successfully stand up against Commie and pro-Commie opposition and which would greatly enhance chances rapid formation new govt and its maintenance of an apparently solid front in test votes in Assembly with issues fought out ahead in party meetings with majority rule.
2. While Department may not wish actively engage in support any one of potential candidates for premiership cited reftel (Souvanna, Phoui, Phoumi, Nhouy, Somsanith) Ambassador’s advice will undoubtedly be sought near future and consequently consideration should therefore be given immediately to the formulation by the Department of any limited guidance it may wish Ambassador to offer.
In meantime suggest (a) that we continue maintain present close contacts with all above personalities and endeavor determine attitudes other friendly missions here, particularly French and British. Department [Page 748] at same time might wish discuss issue with British and French representatives Washington and suggest similar action by Embassies Paris4 and London; (b) that Ambassador also continue indicate to RPL and CDNI leadership strong desirability ensuring that new RLG will adhere to present foreign policy and to implementation programs originally established by Phoui coalition govt, which programs have been virtually suspended since December coup.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/4–860. Secret; Limit Distribution.↩
- Dated April 8. (ibid.; included in the microfiche supplement)↩
- In telegram 1856 to Vientiane, April 15, the Department of State concurred with this recommendation. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/4–860)↩
- In telegram 4753 from Paris, April 12, the Embassy reported discussions with a French Foreign Ministy official who observed that the pre-election campaign was marked by the “normal dishonesty” typical of Lao campaigns. The French clearly preferred that Souvanna Phouma should become the next Lao Prime Minister. (ibid., 751J.00/4–1260; included in the microfiche supplement)↩