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Former Nepal Prime Minister Koirala dead

world Updated: Mar 20, 2010 15:15 IST

Girija Prasad Koirala, the former Nepalese prime minister who brokered the peace deal that ended a bloody 10-year civil war, died on Saturday aged 85, state television reported.

Koirala, who had been suffering from respiratory disease for many years, died at his daughter's home in Kathmandu, Nepal Television reported.

The veteran leader staked his political career on making peace with the Maoist rebels who waged a decade-long insurgency against the state.

The peace deal signed in 2006 ended a conflict that had killed at least 16,000 people, with thousands more still unaccounted for.

Witnesses said thousands of people had gathered at his daughter's home to pay their respects to the four-time prime minister, a member of a political dynasty credited with helping to bring democracy to Nepal.

Koirala led the Himalayan nation through some of its biggest upheavals including its most notorious upset when 10 members of the royal family were shot dead by the crown prince in a drunken rampage.

He was seen as a stabilising force in a country that has seen 18 governments in the last 20 years -- although like many politicians in Nepal he faced frequent allegations of corruption.

His lasting legacy began in April 2006 when he sided with Maoist rebels to force former king Gyanendra to relinquish dictatorial powers.

Political change ensued at a breakneck pace, with the former rebel Maoists winning landmark elections in 2008, abolishing the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy and transforming the impoverished country into a secular republic.