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The group was ultimately successful in achieving paramount power in Laos following a lengthy civil war or insurgent revolution lasting from the 1950s to 1975. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the communist battled Laos's U.S.-backed government and attained victory in 1975.
The Pathet Lao can be considered the Laotian equivalent of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Viet Minh and Viet Cong. The term eventually became the generic name for Laotian communists, much like "Viet Cong" in Vietnam. After they successfully seized power in 1975, they renamed themselves the Lao People's Revolutionary Party.
The organization under this name first appeared in 1950 as adopted by Lao forces who joined the Viet Minh's revolt against the colonial French authorities in Indochina during the First Indochina War. Prince Souphanouvong founded it in North Vietnam. In 1953, Pathet Lao fighters accompanied an invasion of Laos from Vietnam led by Viet Minh forces. They established a government at Samneua in northern Laos. It was formed into an official party, the Lao Patriotic Front (Neo Lao Hak Sat) in 1956. Its goal was ostensibly to wage the communist struggle against colonialism and Western capitalist imperialism.
The communists began to make incursions into central Laos with the support of the Viet Minh, and a civil war erupted. The Pathet Lao quickly came to occupy substantial sections of the country. The 1954 Geneva Conference agreements required the withdrawal of foreign forces and allowed the Pathet Lao to establish itself as a regime in Laos's two northern provinces. A coalition was established in 1957 between the monarchy and communists, but collapse in 1959, bringing about a resumption of fighting.
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