The Pathet Lao
left-oriented nationalist group in Laos that took control of the country in 1975. Founded in 1950, the Pathet Lao (Lao Country) movement joined with the Viet Minh, the Communist-oriented Vietnamese nationalist organization, in armed resistance to French rule in Indochina. In 1956 a legal political wing, the Lao Patriotic Front (Neo Lao Hak Xat), was founded and participated in several coalition governments. In the 1960s and early '70s the Pathet Lao fought a civil war against the U.S.-backed Vientiane regime, winning effective control in the north and east. In the spring of 1975 Pathet Lao forces consolidated their power throughout the country. The Vientiane government fell in May 1975, and Pathet Lao leaders formed a new government.
The Lao Issara
English Free Laos, Laotian political movement against French colonial control, founded in 1945. The departure of the Japanese from Laos in 1945 left the Laotian ruling elite divided over the issue of the restoration of French control. The king welcomed the French return, but Prince Phetsarath, the viceroy, and his brothers, Souvanna Phouma and Souphanouvong, were prominent in the noncommunist Lao Issara, which demanded full independence. The granting of limited independence within the French union in 1949 split the Lao Issara, one faction becoming the left-oriented Pathet Lao.