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Former Afghan king ill: spokesman

Zahir Shah holds no power but was given the symbolic role of Father of the Nation after he returned from exile in Italy in 2002.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2007 18:14 IST

Afghanistan's former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, is ill, a spokesman for the family said on Tuesday.

"He is under the care of doctors in bed and that is why he can't hold meetings," said the spokesman, Fazl Ahmad Popal.

Popal did not give details about the former king's illness but said it was linked to his age. Zahir Shah is 92.

Zahir Shah holds no power but was given the symbolic role of "Father of the Nation" after he returned to Afghanistan from decades of exile in Italy in 2002, after the Taliban were ousted.

Since then he has been living in Kabul, often holding meetings with tribal leaders.

Zahir Shah ascended the throne in 1933 after his father was assassinated by a deranged student.

He was king until 1973 when he was overthrown in a bloodless leftist coup led by a cousin.

His rule is regarded by many Afghans as a golden age of tranquility and stability.

But critics say the he did not do much for the country's development.

Popal said the former king recently went to a Gulf country for a medical check-up.

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