PHETSARATH IS INVITED TO RETURN TO HIS COUNTRY: PROCLAMATION OF A JOINT COMMUNIQUE OF THE LAO GOVERNMENTS
Following the fall of the government of Prime Minister Prince Sou-vannaphouma and Deputy Prime Minister Katay Sasorith, the new government prepared an invitation to Prince Phetsarath to return to Vientiane. In April 1956, the government sent its senior statesman, phony a Khammao, who had been with Prince Phetsarath in the Free Lao government-in-exile ten years earlier, to sound out the Prince's reaction. Later, a Royal Counsellor, phanya Muang Saen, came for an audience at the Prince's home on Wireless Road in Bangkok. The outcome was that the Prince refused to return to Laos.
He refused to return because he saw that the invitation represented only the view of the government. The people were not aware of it, and the Prince might have thought that he was being invited to be used as a hostage. When the government was unsuccessful in gaining his return, it did not tell the Assembly, because, under the circumstances, it probably would have lost face. Thus the announcement that Prince Phetsarath would be invited to return had to be postponed.
Later, the people's feelings toward the Prince strengthened. The people, including the Buddhist Sangha saw the difficulties in Laos since the Prince had left. There had been continual fighting rather than peace, and the government soldiers were tired. The United Nations ceasefire commission appointed to work with the Pathet Lao and the Lao government had produced no results, though the ceasefire agreement had been signed long ago. Thus the people came and petitioned the Assembly for a direct vote on Prince Phetsarath’s return. H.E. Bong Souvannavong, the chairman of the Assembly and the Vientiane representative, brought the issue to the Assembly for its consideration. The Assembly passed the resolution on July 11, 1956, and the Prime Minister appointed a government committee of four men.
In addition, the chairman of the Assembly, on behalf of the members, appointed a committee of nine men. They flew from Vientiane to Bangkok on Sunday, July 15, 1956. The invitation committee also brought a letter for the Prince from the Patriarch of the Sangha. The committee met with the Prince for two or three days. The diplomats let them stay at the Lao Embassy with the approval of the Lao ambassador to Thailand.
The proceedings were carried out in the manner of long-separated brothers. Though Prince Phetsarath's heart was strong as iron or diamonds, it had to soften in the face of popular and Sangha opinion. Could any man who loves his country more than his own heartbeat remain abroad while his people cried for his help?
When the conditions were agreed upon, the Prince announced that he would return to Laos when the King came back from his rest-cure in Paris, and he would do obeisance to the King as the senior prince; otherwise people might misunderstand him and think he was taking advantage of the opportunity to return while the King was absent.
Various evidence was exhibited for the world to witness. Peace was coming to a small but brave and patriotic country, and it was coming by the honest guarantee of the government and people acting in good faith. Each side made its announcements, and the Prince hoped that the negotiations with Prince Souphanouvong's Pathet Lao would proceed straightforwardly. If there were disagreements and objections, the Prince, with his residence in Thailand, could act as mediator, since he was the eldest brother and was like a judge. Any other settlement would have been inappropriate. If the Prince had made the agreement on either side's territory, he might have been accused of partiality to that side. However, it would be fair if done on neutral ground in Thailand.
It is the author's view that the Prince also wanted to honor Thailand. In this agreement, he hoped for 100 percent cooperation. Even when the world extended its hands to manage affairs, things still remained a dilemma. In whatever territory the agreement is successfully concluded, it will benefit the owners of that territory and will be valuable for their history.
The various testimonies in the following documents are the stories of the requests made to Prince Phetsarath to return to Laos.
The Royal Kingdom of Laos Document
The National Assembly
July 10, 1956
I, Pheng Phongsavan, Chairman of the National Assembly of Laos, respectfully request an audience with the Prince-Viceroy, former Chief Minister of the Kingdom of Laos.
I ask to take this opportunity to send a committee of representatives of Laos to have an audience with you, and to convey on this occasion my highest respect and regards to your great kindness.
I respectfully inform you that the present time is appropriate for you to return to the Kingdom of Laos, because the people of the entire country request your return in order to care for your people at a time when our country faces various important problems affecting its destiny and future.
The National Assembly, which is comprised of representatives who are the voice of the people of the entire country, has unanimously resolved to ask the government and the Assembly to invite you to return to the country.
As for your title and rank as Prince-Viceroy, we guarantee to resolve this according to your wishes when you have returned to the Kingdom of Laos.
In addition, if you have any other wishes, we shall also prepare all things, including your residence, etc.
At the same time, we are confident that this time you will be kind
enough to return in accordance with our request in order to help build
our country and enhance its everlasting progress for all the people.
May it please Your Highness
The Royal Kingdom of Laos
Vat Ong Teu, Vientiane
Office of the Patriarch of the Sangha
Number 213/2499 R.K.
July 12, 1956
I, Phrakhru Khun Manivong, Patriarch of the Sangha of Laos, ask blessings for you, Prince-Viceroy Phetsarath, former head of the Buddhist Institute.
At this time, the National Assembly of Laos has passed a unanimous resolution to invite you to return to Laos, and a government committee led by Bong Souvannavong has been appointed to represent the people of the Kingdom of Laos.
Consequently, in the name of the Sangha of the entire Kingdom of Laos, I, as head of the Sangha, manifesting its unanimous wishes, think of your great compassion for the country and the religion in an earlier time. Now we have learned with great happiness that a committee of representatives will be traveling to meet with you. We would like to accompany this committee or appoint a committee of the Sangha, but this would be inappropriate. Therefore we have written this document instead, and have entrusted it to the representatives in order to request that you return to Laos to help the people of the country and to uphold the religion.
Furthermore, you have sacrificed your honor and prestige as a political exile living in a foreign country in order to work for full independence and for the maintenance of the religion, which all of the people of the entire country believe in more than in their own lives. Now all of these aims have succeeded through the power of your exertions and your compassion, which both in the past and at present have been the reasons why the people, including the Sangha, high and low, in every district, remember you and have unfailingly engraved that memory in their hearts.
With virtue and great happiness, I, in the name of the Sangha, send you our blessings with this document and request that you return to Laos in accord with the invitation of the committee of representatives and the Sangha in order to govern the country and glorify the Sangha in its everlasting progress.
May it please Your Highness
The Patriarch, Chairman of the Sangha
Phrakhru Khun Manivong
Official Invitation to His Majesty, the former Viceroy of the Kingdom of Laos, now residing in Thailand.
The committee of representatives of the people of Laos has brought this petition to present to you.
We, in the name of the people and the Sangha, in our position as representatives of the people of the entire country, with unanimous loyalty and concern for you at all times, come to ask you to receive our loyalty and request you to return to the fatherland, following the continual good wishes of the Lao people.
We have cone to invite you in order to convey the wishes of the people of the entire country and the wishes of the King and the government, which were unanimous in the National Assembly. Consequently, this committee of representatives of the people and the government was appointed to meet with you in order to invite you to return to Laos. You have been in a foreign land for twelve years; you have sacrificed your happiness for the benefit of the country. The Lao people are proud and will not forget.
Thus we implore you to accept this invitation to return to Laos according to the wishes of the people, who at this time are waiting for you.
Your return to Laos will demonstrate to the people of foreign
countries and to the Lao people your loyalty [and dedication to] the
happiness and honor of the people of the entire country.
May it please Your Highness.
The Committee of Representatives of the Lao People with the Permission of the National Assembly.
H. E. phanya Borihansuksa (Bong Souvannavong)
Phanya Paccanukvichit (Pao Vanthanuvong)
Representative Champa Phromraachan
Representative Bounthong Voravong
Representative Ouan Buntham
Representative Khamphrao Bouppha
Representative Ouan Vinayya
Representative Maha Kou Souvannamethi
Representative Soukhamthat Chounlamany
Memorandum of the invitation to Prince Phetsarath to return to Laos. There were two committees that invited the Prince to return:
(1) On July 11, 1956, in a message from the Prime Minister No. 176/99, the government appointed Ngone Sananikone to head a committee consisting of H. E. Chao Somsanith, H. E. Thong Suthivongnonrath, and H. E. phanya Khammao.
(2) On July 12, 1956, in a message from its Chairman No. 11/99, the National Assembly appointed H. E. Bong Souvannavong as chief of the committee consisting of phanya Pao Vanthanuvong, Champa Phrommachan, Ouan Vinayya, Ouan Bountham, Maha Kou Souvannaraethi, Bounthong Voravong, Khamphrao Bouppha, and Thao Soukhamthat Chounlanany.
Both committees met with Prince Phetsarath at his residence at 110 Wireless Road in Bangkok on Sunday, July 15, 1956, from 10:00 A M. to 11:00 A.M.
H. E. Ngone Sananikone presented the documents that had been prepared and said, "We of both committees, representing the government and the people, invite you to return to Laos.
"In accordance with your wishes and the wishes of the people, Laos will be independent and united. At this time, the following things have been successfully accomplished:
"1. As for unity, Laos has come together as one kingdom under the King as the supreme head.
"2. As for independence, all countries know that Laos is an independent country and has been accepted as a member of the United Nations.
"Recently, the Peking government sent an official letter inviting the Lao government to exchange visits of friendly relations between neighboring countries. The Lao government answered that it would do so and is preparing to go in a short time.
"Moreover, the Soviet government, like many other countries, sent an official letter recognizing the independence and unity of Laos and requested diplomatic, cultural, and economic relations.
"As for the internal political situation, there is relative peace, though there are difficulties in some places such as Phongsaly and Samneua. Concerning this, the government of the kingdom will soon open negotiations with Prince Souphanouvong in order to conclude an agreement in complete peace.
"Therefore, we of the two committees request the Prince to return to Laos in order to help the people."
H. E. Bong Souvannavong presented the following documents:
1. The document by which the chairman of the National Assembly appointed the committee;
2. The official letter of the Patriarch of the Sangha of the Kingdom of Laos, No. 213/R.K., dated July 12, 1956;
3. The official letter of the Chairman of the National Assembly dated July 10, 1956; and
4. The official letter of the committee of representatives who came to make the invitation. These documents were read in the meeting and have been excerpted in this memorandum.
Prince Phetsarath answered the two committees as follows:
"I extend my deeply-felt thanks to the two committees which have come to invite me to return to Laos, and ask you to convey my thanks to the government and the Assembly, who together came to present the invitation to me at this time.
"Restoring the independence of Laos has been my determination since the end of 1913, when I returned from France. It is not true that this has been my goal only from 1945. I will now tell you the circumstances from the beginning, since this is an issue about which I have never been able to speak freely. I entered the civil service in the Public Hall of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang in 1914. This was the first year that the French set up the civil service administration of all the provincial capitals of the colony of Laos, except for Luang Prabang Province, which was under the King. The important characteristic of this organization was that civil servants of each district had to be people who were born and had lived in that district. They could not serve in other districts, and all districts within a province came under the French Commissioner who served in that province.
"The organization was set up following our customs of administration of the time. The people of each district understood that their motherland had an area limited to their own district, and they believed that other districts were like other countries. This was the case because, apart from Luang Prabang Province, there was no royal administration left from earlier times. Consequently, each district considered itself independent and alone.
"In 1917, High Commissioner Gamier had M. Banneman revise the civil service administration and appointed me as an adviser. I used this opportunity to transfer civil servants in each province to serve in every district of that province according to the system used in the civil service administration of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang. This transferring and moving of officials was a new step which gave the civil service administration a much wider perspective.
"In 1920, when this administrative system had been used for three years, I revised it again, implementing the important policy that the service had the power to transfer civil servants to serve in other areas according to their needs. I also instituted country-wise secretarial examinations, though the Kingdom of Luang Prabang was governed by royal decree. Civil servants of all ranks and divisions changed their duties in all provinces, regardless of whether they were northern Lao, central Lao, or southern Lao. This allowed the Lao people to come to know officials of all regions and encouraged greater cooperation. Although there were some civil servants who did not have this broader vision, did not understand my objectives, and thought that I hated them because they were transferred far from their homes, I paid no attention to their criticism. From that time on, the administration of Laos has been systematic, the people have understood, and it is apparent that cooperation among the Lao people has increased.
"In 1928, France passed a resolution that the entire area of Laos, including the Kingdom of Luang Prabang, would become a French colony. On behalf of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang, I fought this issue with all my strength, for I saw that the French Commissioner was doing wrong.
I contacted many French politicians whom I had previously known, and was successful in stopping the resolution. Because of this, the King of Luang Prabang had the opportunity to protest the taking of Hua Phan Province (Samneua) which the French had given to Vietnam in 1893. After this protest, the province was returned to Laos and came under the King's jurisdiction in 1931 or 1932.
"In 1940 there was a dispute between France and Thailand which resulted in Laos losing all its territories on the right bank of the Mekong River. France saw that the Kingdom of Luang Prabang had lost territory, and in order that King Sisavangvong would not be disaffected, the French then consulted me and transferred Tha Khong and Phan Provinces to the King's jurisdiction. They planned to leave the area from Vientiane south for me to administer in my position as Viceroy. I did not agree, and asked them to put Vientiane Province under the crown of the King of Luang Prabang. As the King's Viceroy, I chose this route because I did not want to repeat the mistaken policy of our ancestors, who in 1707 divided the country of Lan Xang into Luang Prabang and Vientiane Provinces, a division which resulted in the Lao nation's losing its independence for the next 133 years. I feared that in succeeding generations the territories might become enemies as before.
"Consequently, from 1940 on, the Kingdom of Luang Prabang was limited to three provinces. At the same time, I appointed Lao administrative governors, paired with French Indochina Commissioners, in Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravane, and Champassak Provinces. I sought to join the kingdom and to unite Laos as it had been in ancient times. Twice I requested the French to do this, but they refused to allow it. From that time on, fighting for the independence and unification of Laos has been strongly on my mind.
"In March, 1945, the Japanese seized Laos and either expelled or arrested the French. When France failed to protect the Kingdom of Luang Prabang as promised in the 1898 treaty, the Japanese entered, and King Sisavangvong proclaimed the independence of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang, which delighted the Lao of the entire country.
"When the Japanese were defeated in August 1945, the French returned to govern Laos as before, but as Prime Minister of the government of Luang Prabang, I would not agree to this unless there was a new treaty with France. At that time, I sent H. E. Ngone Sananikone, who is sitting here now, to contact the governors and the civil servants of Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravane, and Champassak provinces, and ask them if the people of those provinces would welcome being united with the Kingdom of Luang Prabang. I asked the governors to telegraph their answers to me as quickly as possible.
"When I received the answer that the four provinces welcomed union under the crown of the King of Luang Prabang, I telegraphed the king requesting a royal decree (on September 2, 1945). Later, on September 7, 1945, I received an official telegram from the Minister of Interior saying that the King had announced that the Kingdom of Luang Prabang would return to the French. I kept this telegram secret temporarily in order to prevent a bloody confrontation between the people and the King. There was popular dissatisfaction that the King had proclaimed a return to the French without listening to popular opinion, which supported an independent and united country.
"Shortly after I received answers from the four southern provinces, civil servants from those provinces serving in Vientiane came to ask me to organize the unification of Laos as quickly as possible. They were afraid that when the French returned they would obstruct such action, as they had done twice before. I waited for an answer from the King until September 15. When the appointed day passed and there was no answer, I proclaimed the union of the four provinces in my position as Viceroy and Prime Minister of the government.
"Later, on October 10, I received an official telegram from the Ministry of Interior of Luang Prabang announcing that the King had dismissed me from my position as Viceroy and Prime Minister with the charges that I had followed a political policy against the wishes of the Lao people and that I had acted without first consulting the King.
"When I received this proclamation, I telegraphed the King that I would follow his orders in every way. Then I took the telegram proclaiming the return of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang to the French, along with the telegram dismissing me from my duties, and gave them to the Lao civil servants and the Lao people. I announced that from that time on, I would have no part in the affairs of the country.
"The civil servants and people of Vientiane openly demonstrated great excitement and disappointment over this issue. They came together to form a Free Lao Government to resist the French in order to unite the country and to preserve the independence proclaimed by King Sisavangvong on April 8, 1945.
"When the Free Lao government had been formed under Prime Minister phanya Khammao, who is here with us now, it telegraphed King Sisavangvong, asking him to accept the Free Lao Government as his government and requested that he give an answer within twenty-eight hours. When the deadline had passed and there was no reply whatsoever, the Free Lao Government ordered a naval military contingent to seize the palace. However, the people of Luang Prabang took control of the palace and closed it before the soldiers managed to reach the city.
"In early January 1946, I returned to Luang Prabang, where I remained until May 4. I then sought refuge in Thai territory and finally came to Bangkok, where the Free Lao Government had settled the month before. I no sooner reached Bangkok than the Free Lao Government asked me to lead our national liberation, because of my fame and influence and the long-time loyalty to me of people throughout the country. In December, 1 accepted the invitation of the Free Lao Government and worked to improve the military forces, which fought the French continuously until October 1949. At this time, without informing me beforehand, the Free Lao Government agreed with the French to return to Laos. When the agreement had been made and invitations received from the French, they informed me and asked me to join them. I felt that this action on the part of the Free Lao Government was incorrect according to custom. It was wrong to put their leader under the control of the government. Thus I refused to obey their orders, and they dismissed me as their leader and returned to Laos. The Free Lao soldiers, however, would not agree to return before independence. Consequently, Prince Souphanouvong, whom I had appointed as military commander in December 1946, took the soldiers into the forests and continued to harass the French.
"As for me, I had stomach troubles, had an operation, and had to abandon both sides and remove myself from political affairs from then on. Though I had been dismissed twice, when I reflected on the good of the country, it was natural that I should think of returning to Laos if the political situation were appropriate. Would I be dismissed again, and would harm be done to me? If the future were such that the Lao people of the entire country unanimously requested me to return, with an invitation from the government and the head of the Sangha and with the approval of the King, I would be pleased and willing to accept their invitation and return to Laos to help build the prosperity and progress of our country.
"Moreover, Laos has just been united and has just recovered its independence after having been divided for 249 years. This division into the Kingdoms of Luang Prabang and Vientiane cost Laos its independence and served only the private benefit of members of the royal family. It was this ancient separation of the country of Lan Xang that was the reason our independence was lost in 1707 and not regained again until our country was reunited in 1947. Laos had been dismembered and had lost its independence for a period of a full 240 years, longer than any other country in the world. Even Poland, which had been divided among Germany, Russia, and Greece from 1776 to 1918, had not lost its independence as long as Laos.
"The fact that Laos is united and is an independent country equal to other countries is the reason I am pleased and willing to return to help you and all of the Lao people build our country in prosperity and progress. The timing of my return will depend on your agreement to certain minor conditions which I invite all of you to consider and to consult on again tomorrow. However, I want you to know now that my return to Laos will be only after King Sisavangvong returns from France to his own land."
The Conditions [Memorandum]
1. Prince Phetsarath said that his return to Laos was not as important as the lives of the Lao people, who had suffered the fate of ten years of country-wide disorder. Consequently, he asked the government of the Kingdom and the Pathet Lao to come to a quick agreement so that the people of the entire country would be united and would have a good standard of living.
The committee replied that negotiations with the Pathet Lao would begin very soon, as soon as an appropriate site was decided upon.
Prince Phetsarath commented that according to his information, the negotiations would be held in Luang Prabang. Furthermore, if both sides invited him, he would be happy to be chairman of the negotiations.
2. Before returning to Laos, the Prince would first wait for King Sisavangvong to come back from France. This was to guard against any misunderstanding on the part of certain people who claimed that he sought the throne. As for this charge, the Prince had asserted many times, for example on November 13, 1947, that he sought independence for Laos with no hope of personal benefit. He did not seek to become king but only wished to act in accordance with public opinion for the benefit of the entire country. Following such opinion, he proclaimed the union of southern, central, and northern Laos, as he already explained above. He repeated again that even if there were some people who demanded that he become King of Laos, he would absolutely refuse to the day of his death.
3. Prince Phetsarath acknowledged the news from the invitation committees concerning the restoration of his rank and title as Viceroy. He said he would be pleased to return to Laos in the status of a citizen without first receiving the title and rank of Viceroy.
The Prince asked that the government and the Assembly consider whether the day of his return should be determined by royal decree or by law. The two committees gave unanimous consent to this request, and thanked the Prince for the manner in which he dealt with them.
4. The Prince announced that when his conditions had been met, he would set the date for his return to Laos. However, before leaving Thailand, he needed time to reach an understanding with his dozens of creditors in order to preserve his good reputation. The creditors' loans were for the needs of the Free Lao Government and its national liberation soldiers.
The committee of representatives asked the amount owed to the creditors, and the Prince replied that it was around 600,000 baht [then = US$30,000]. The committee unanimously guaranteed that it would consider paying this debt, which had been incurred largely in the cause of national liberation.
5. Prince Phetsarath asked the government to arrange aid for Lao exiles of every level, from commoners to civil servants, and to encourage their return to Laos to help to work for the country's prosperity. The committee guaranteed that it would direct its attention to this matter, which was also the wish of the government and the Assembly.
6. The committee guaranteed that the government would repair the Sieng Keo palace for the Prince and would also give him a palace appropriate to his honor in Vientiane. Prince Phetsarath said that this should depend on whether the government saw it as appropriate for the people and the country and gave his thanks.
This memorandum was completed in Bangkok in the Lao and French languages on Tuesday, July 17, 1956, and signed by Prince Phetsarath, the committee of representatives of the government, and the committee of representatives of the people at the Lao Embassy in Bangkok.
H. E. Ngone Sananikone
H. E. Chao Somsanith
H. E. Thong Suthivongnonrath
H. E. Phanya Khamraao
Representative Champa Phrommachan
Representative Phanya Pao Vanthanuvong
Representative Ouan Vinayya
Representative Maha Kou Souvannamethi
Representative Ouan Bountham
Representative Soukhamthat Chounlamany
Representative Bounthong Voravong
Representative Khamphao Bouppha
The Lao Embassy in Bangkok
Lao Ambassador to Minister of Foreign Affairs in Vientiane
H. E. Ngone Sananikone to the Prime Minister.
Met the first time on Sunday 15/7/56 at 9:00 A.M.
Prince Phetsarath answered us that he would return under some conditions, specifically:
1. After an agreement with the Pathet Lao.
2. After the king returns. Various conditions were raised for later consideration. Prince will help in negotiations with Pathet Lao and government with official invitation from both sides. Prince wants negotiations to open in Bangkok in his status as older brother of both sides. Prince hopes for solution. Please give views on negotiations.
Signed: Ngone Sananikone
Signed: Phanya Nit Singharath
Vientiane 28 16 1645 State of Laos
Prime Minister to Lao Ambassador / Bangkok
Agree with everything H. E. Bong and H. E. Ngone have done. I accept responsibility for Prince Phetsarath's conditions. I will explain these issues to Prince Souphanouvong.
Signed: Bong Souvannavong
A special diplomatic committee, officially constituted by the authorities, consisting of representatives of the people and the Ministers of Laos, reached Bangkok last Saturday to meet Prince Phetsarath, the former Viceroy of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang. The Prince was the head of the resistance for the attainment of Lao unity and independence, and has been in exile in the Thai capital since 1946.
The committee informed Prince Phetsarath about the present situation of the Kingdom of Laos, which is fully independent and united and is a member of the United Nations. In the name of the National Assembly and in the name of the government, the committee invited Prince Phetsarath to return to Laos to help with the work of bringing peace to all the people, from north to south, who have long awaited the Prince's return.
When the Prince saw the fully unified and independent status of Laos, and when he saw that all levels of the Lao people still remembered him and remained loyal to him, he was very pleased and gladly accepted the invitation to return.
The day of Prince Phetsarath's return to Laos had not yet been definitely set, but he will return after King Sisavangvong's return from France and after the government of the Kingdom of Laos has first prepared various things for his convenience.
Bangkok, July 19, 1956
(Prince Phetsarath) (Bong Souvannavong) (Ngone Sananikone)
Chief of the Representatives of the National Assembly Chief of the Government Representatives
Prince Phetsarath's Announcement
I, Prince Phetsarath, announce to my kinspeople of the entire Kingdom that I emigrated from ray homeland and have sought refuge in Thailand for the past eleven years. Now a committee of representatives of the government and a committee of representatives of the people have come and invited me to return to Laos to cooperate with all of my people in helping to build everlasting prosperity for our country, which has been my wish from the beginning.
Especially at this time, our Laos is a country that has the strength to build itself anew and to accomplish the various tasks necessary to bring about everlasting progress and prosperity. I am pleased that I will have my hands full in serving my country again and in cooperating with all of the Lao people to the best of my ability. I have received the invitation of the committee of representatives to return to Laos and to support its independence and democracy for the everlasting security of all of my people.
I hereby announce to all of my Lao kin that before returning I will wait for King Sisavangvong to come back from France. When he returns, I shall set a definite date for my own return to Laos and will announce the day for all to know in advance.
In closing, I bestow blessings on my Lao kin of every district, north and south, that you will have everlasting happiness, day and night.
Bangkok / July 20, 1956
After the government and Assembly representatives asked the Prince to return in the name of the people, the issue was turned over to the cabinet to present to the National Assembly. The Assembly's vote of approval was unanimous.
Furthermore, to prevent any uncertainty among those who might criticize the Prince, he explained directly and openly that mom Aphinaphon, his new wife, would go to Vientiane with him and be received by his original wife. She had been his mate for eleven years through times of distress and difficulty, and the Prince had depended on her in various kinds of political work. She had always endeavored to give the Prince happiness, and he would never forget.
The government contacted Prince Souphanouvong's Pathet Lao proposing unanimous brotherly agreements. When the lion of the Sip Song Chu Thai heard that Prince Phetsarath had agreed to return to the Kingdom of Laos, he flew to Vientiane to make the accords. The day after the meeting on August S, 1956, the two sides announced the following joint communique.
Joint Declaration by the Royal Government of Laos and the Pathet Lao Forces
The Royal Laotian Government Delegation, led by His Highness Prince Souvannaphouma, Prime Minister, and composed of Their Excellencies Ngone Sananikone, Oudom Souvannavong, Thong Southivongnorath, Nou-ing Rattanavong, ohao Somsanith, Col. Ouan Ratikoun, Lt. Col. Phoumi Nosavan, Maj. Kouprasith Abhay, and Sisouk Na Champassak; and the 'Pathet Lao' Forces Delegation, led by His Highness Prince Souphanouvong and composed of Messrs. Phoumi Vongvichit, Nounak Phoumsavan, Phoun Siprasoeth, and thao Ma, met on August 1-5 in Vientiane to seek the means to settle, in conformity with the Geneva Agreement, the problems concerning both the Parties in order to consolidate the peace, democracy, unity and independence of the Lao Fatherland.
For the past five days, the negotiations have been intimate and brotherly and there has been good understanding between the two sides. The chiefs and representatives of both sides have exchanged views and agreed that tension in the world situation has decreased, and similarly tension in the Lao situation also had decreased.
In the light of this internal and external situation, the two parties are agreed to adopt the foreign policy repeatedly stated by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and His Highness the Prime Minister Souvannaphouma, and according to which the Government is resolved:
coexistence, To keep good relations with all countries, in particular, with neighboring countries,
territory apart from those foreseen in the Geneva Agreement.
Such a policy is in conformity with the interests of the entire Lao People.
In order to create a good atmosphere for the negotiations and favorable conditions for the integration of all Lao citizens in the National Community, the two Parties have acknowledged the necessity of proceeding with the cessation of all hostilities in the two provinces of Samneua and Phongsaly. Pending the complete settlement of all the questions concerning the two Parties, the troops of each side must remain in their present positions. They must not undertake any provocative or encroaching activities; they must not increase their strength in the two provinces in terms of either men or armaments.
The Royal Lao Government Delegation guarantees to the 'Pathet Lao’ Forces Delegation that an official announcement will be made informing the entire population that the Lao people have the democratic rights of freedom of speech, writing, propaganda, passage, and association, and that all Lao citizens, male and female, have the right to vote. Furthermore, the system of forcible corvee which was used in the colonial period will officially cease in order to give every person the opportunity to earn his livelihood according to his needs, following the laws of the Kingdom.
The two Parties agree that all the political organizations of the . 'Pathet Lao,' such as the Front (Neo Lao Hak Sat), the youth, women, peasants, and other organizations can undertake their activities according to law as the other political parties do; that there be a guarantee of the civic rights of the 'Pathet Lao1 and former participants of the resistance without discrimination; that the 'Pathet Lao' cadres and those of the former participants of the resistance be able to take part in administrative and technical functions at all levels according to their qualifications and after arrangement between the two Parties.
The question of elections and the formation of a National Union Government is still under study.
As for the peaceful settlement of the matter of the two provin [Samneua and Phongsaly], the two Parties have reached an agreement the principle of placing:
authority of the Royal Government and reorganizing it identically with that of the other provinces of the Kingdom;
The two Parties agree to set up a Joint Political Commission and a Joint Military Commission entrusted with the study and the settlement of the pending questions to seek the means to implement the agreements already reached. If necessary, His Highness the Prime Minister and His Highness Prince Souphanouvong will meet to endeavor to settle the questions under dispute.
The two Parties unanimously agree that these negotiations have produced beneficial results. The two Parties have come to understand each other in unanimity on many principles. The agreements have demonstrated an important victory for peace and independence for the Lao people.
Both the Parties express their joint satisfaction to the International Commission for Supervision and Control in Laos and especially to His Excellency the Chairman Samar Sen for the great efforts they have made in helping the two Parties. They hope that the International Commission will go on extending its help until all the questions are solved in conformity with the spirit of the Geneva Agreement.
Head of the Royal Laotian Government Head of the 'Pathet Lao' Forces Delegation
(Signed) Prince Souvannaphouma (Signed) Prince Souphanouvong
5 August 1956
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