VIENTIANE -- One-party rule continues in Laos, where the National Assembly on Wednesday picked Communist party leader Bounnhang Vorachit as president.
The 78-year-old Bounnhang, general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, now doubles as head of state, with the party's No. 2 man, former foreign minister Thongloun Sisoulith, serving as prime minister.
Laos chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, a duty that will see the country host regional and U.S., Japanese, and Chinese leaders in September.
The party shuffled its leadership at a quinquennial congress in January, which was followed by a general election in March.
Choummaly Sayasone, 79, the former president and general secretary, does not hold an important post this time. But Bounnhang belongs to the same generation as Choummaly, who took part in founding modern Laos in 1975, and is close to him.
While some have hopes for the leadership of the 70-year-old Thongloun, who has ample diplomatic experience, Choummaly and others of the revolution-era old guard are seen as retaining a measure of power when it counts.