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New Laos president faces rising China debt and battered economy

Party General Secretary Thongloun enjoys high support as 'clean' leader

Thongloun Sisoulith will oversee an economy reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.    © Reuters

BANGKOK -- The National Assembly of Laos on Monday elected Thongloun Sisoulith, the general secretary of the ruling party, as the nation's new president, entrusting a popular party leader with rebooting an economy devastated by the pandemic.

Thongloun, 75, is the first civilian with no military background to serve in the top job. He was foreign minister from 2006 before becoming prime minister in 2016. In addition to his native language, he speaks Vietnamese, Russian and English.

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