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Patriarch of Nepal’s politics Koirala dead

world Updated: Mar 21, 2010 00:55 IST
Shirish B Pradhan
Shirish B Pradhan
Hindustan Times
Patriarch of Nepal’s politics Koirala dead

Nepal’s five-time Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, a close friend of India and architect of the landmark peace deal with Maoists that ended a bloody decade-long insurgency, died here on Saturday of multiple organ failure at the age of 85.

Koirala died at 12.10 pm local time at his daughter and Deputy Premier Sujata Koirala’s residence in Mandikhatar on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepali Congress Vice President Gopal Man Shrestha said.

The veteran leader, who was the President of Nepali Congress which is a key constituent of the ruling CPN-UML-led coalition, was considered close to the Indian leadership across the political spectrum.

He was suffering from lung infection, respiratory problem, diarrhoea and had a low hemoglobin level. He had been staying at his daughter’s residence after he was discharged from Martyr Ganga Lal Heart Centre here following some improvement in his condition on Wednesday.

However, his condition deteriorated on Friday after a bout of diarrhoea and he slipped into coma on Saturday morning.

The former Premier had played a pivotal role in the peace process, Nepal’s transition to democracy and bringing Maoists to the mainstream politics three years ago.

Koirala was instrumental in the signing of the 12-point agreement between the then Maoist rebels and seven political parties in November 2005 in New Delhi, which was aimed at toppling monarchy and restoring democracy in the country.

After this, Maoists joined the mainstream politics in 2006, ending the decade-long armed conflict that left 16,000 people dead.

Born in 1925 in Bihar, Koirala became Prime Minister for the first time in 1991 after his Nepali Congress party secured majority in the 205-member House of Representatives.

He began his political career as a trade unionist when he joined the Nepal Mazdoor Congress in 1948 and played an active role in the first labour movement of Nepal the same year.

Koirala was the Nepali Congress General secretary from 1975 to 1991.

He was elected President of Nepali Congress in 1994 during the ninth general convention of Nepali Congress.

He also became acting head of the state briefly after monarchy was abolished in May 2008.

It was Koirala who proposed the motion to abolish monarchy through voting during the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly on May 28, 2008, which was endorsed by an overwhelming majority in the 601-member House. pti