Koirala passes away
Girija Prasad Koirala, the former Nepalese prime minister who brokered the peace deal that ended a bloody 10-year civil war, died yesterday aged 85, an aide said.
Koirala, who had been suffering from respiratory disease for many years, died at his daughter's home in Kathmandu, Gokarna Poudel told AFP.
"The former prime minister died at 12.10 this afternoon. His relatives were with him when he passed away," said Poudel.
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.
Koirala's body will lie in state at the national stadium from Sunday, with his funeral to be held later in the day at the Pashupatinath Hindu temple in Kathmandu, Poudel said.