Laos. According to Countryaah.com, Laos population in 2020 is estimated at 7,275,571. Defense Minister Douangchay Phichit, who was also Deputy Prime Minister, was among the 17 people who died in an air crash in May. Since 2001 he has been a member of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo, the most important decision-making body. Security Minister Thongbanh Sengaphone also perished.
In October, a decree came into force prohibiting the spread of criticism on the Internet against the government or the Communist Party, as well as disseminating “false” information. Only 8% of the country’s approximately 7 million residents are estimated to have access to the Internet, but use among young people and urban dwellers is increasing.
No progress was reported in clarifying what happened to agricultural expert Sombath Somphone, which disappeared in December 2012. He was one of the critics of dam projects on the Mekong River that Laos has built. Other critics were neighboring countries, downstream fishermen and environmental organizations.
In January 2016, the construction of the Don Sahong dam in southern Laos began, a few kilometers from the Cambodia border. The dam will have a capacity of 260MW which is expected to be exported to Thailand and Cambodia. It is expected to be completed in 2019. The project triggered a number of protests, both internally in Laos and from Vietnam and Cambodia, as the project will potentially affect the lives of millions of people.
The 10th party congress in January 2016 decided to appoint Thongloun Sisoulith as new prime minister and Bounnhang Vorachith as new secretary general and president. Both took over their records in April. Vorachith was formerly Vice President and Sisoulith was former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Two political prisoners were released in March after serving 17 years in prison. Together with 28 others, in 1999 they conducted a peaceful demonstration of economic, political and social change in the country. 3 out of 30 received long prison sentences and one of them died in prison.
In 2016, China was the largest foreign investor in Laos. Since 1989, it had invested $ 5.4 billion. US§ in the country. In 2nd and 3rd place were Thailand and Vietnam with 4.5 and US $ 3.1 billion.