LAOS: Polite Revolution

In true Laotian style, last week's coup by the Communist Pathet Lao was a well-mannered affair, allowing for some touches of face-saving grace. It began with a series of "popular" demonstrations, some of them so tamely orchestrated that bored crowds began to wander away before the big finale. Then it was announced that a two-day Congress of 265 People's delegates had taken place in Vientiane, although no one in the capital had seen or heard of it. At each event, figurehead King Savang Vatthana, 68, and his 18-month-old coalition were thanked for...

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