335. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Laos1

1857. 1. Assume your analysis April 8 (Embtel 2555)2 based on assumption Electoral Committee would be willing and able to produce single slate at least in districts where leftist candidates are running. Since Committee has not been able do so, it would appear Santiphab–NLHX have better chance win more seats than earlier forecast, thus making selection of Prime Minister from victorious non-leftist candidates more difficult.3

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2. Your analysis also based on assumption FAL would not favor any one pro-RLG group during campaign and voting. Recent reports however indicate FAL very active in promoting CDNI candidates and deliberately seeking defeat certain RLP candidates including some ostensibly supported by Committee.

3. Believe RLP/CDNI/FAL coalition such as Phoui’s “full powers” Cabinet best formula in free world interest and believe we must strive for this although will probably not be easy to form. If estimated strength Souvanna Phouma’s RLP faction in next Assembly is confirmed by election, i.e., size his faction in next Assembly apt be larger than Phoui’s, Phoumi’s or any other CDNI favorite, we tentatively inclined favor alternatives A and D (with Phoui Sananikone in) your analysis, in that order as most desirable from viewpoint practicability and US interest.4

4. However rather than indicating support for candidate for PriMin at this stage believe we should reiterate our interest in seeing democratic and constitutional procedures followed in formation of new government. This approach would (a) hopefully eliminate General Phoumi as PM without our having to side with or against him (b) not alienate Phoui and (c) not require us take open position against Souvanna. If Souvanna were to be asked to form Government we would consider it of utmost importance to have strong elements Phoui faction and CDNI in Cabinet to prevent expected and typical effort by Souvanna move farther left than we believe in Lao national interest.

5. Believe you should continue maintain contacts political figures, especially Phoui, Souvanna and Phoumi.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/4–1560. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Erickson, cleared with SEA and FE, and approved by Parsons. Repeated to Bangkok, London, Paris, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Hong Kong, and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. See footnote 2, supra.
  3. At the Secretary’s Staff Meeting on April 11, Parsons informed Herter as follows:

    “The Lao elections will take place Sunday week and even if there are substantial losses in controversial cases the Conservatives will undoubtedly triumph. There was some discussion of the possible candidates for Prime Minister and Mr. Parsons confirmed to the Secretary that Phoui was at the moment in a vulnerable position. He said that we are considering our position with respect to the possible candidates [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].” (Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75)

  4. In telegram 2555 from Vientiane, April 8, the Embassy suggested some possible alternatives for the next Lao Government.