France formally recognized the independence of Laos within the French Union on July 19, 1949, and Laos remained a member of the French Union until 1953. From 1954 until 1957, pro-Western governments held power. The first coalition government, the Government of National Union, led by Souvanna Phouma, was formed in 1957, but it collapsed in 1958 with the imprisonment of Prince Soupha-nouvong and other LPF leaders by the government. A pro-Western regime took over the Royal Lao Government. The LPF insurgency resumed after 1959, when Souphanouvong and other leaders escaped from prison.
In 1960, Kong Le, a paratroop captain, seized Vientiane in a coup and demanded formation of a neutralist government to end the fighting. Kong Le and the neutralist government, again under Souvanna Phouma, were driven from Vientiane later in the year by rightist forces under Gen. Phoumi Nosovan and then formed an alliance with the LPF. By early 1961, the LPF, with North Vietnamese military support, threatened to take over the entire country. US military advisers and supplies were sent to aid the Royal Army.
A 14-country conference convened in Geneva to address the issue of Laos reached an agreement in 1962 that provided international guarantees for the independence and neutrality of Laos. But the LPF ceased cooperating with the government in 1964, and fighting intensified against the neutralists and rightists.
In 1972, the Lao communists publicly proclaimed the existence of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP). A new coalition, with Communist participation, and a cease-fire were arranged in 1973, but the political struggle between the communists, neutralists, and rightists continued. The collapse of Saigon and Phnom Penh in April 1975 hastened the decline of the coalition. On December 2, 1975, the monarchy was abolished and the communist Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) was established.
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