Former Nepal PM Sushil Koirala dies

Agence France-Presse . Kathmandu
Sushil Koirala

Sushil Koirala

Former Nepal prime minister Sushil Koirala, a veteran politician once jailed for helping to hijack a plane, died in Kathmandu Tuesday aged 77 after suffering from pneumonia, his doctor said.
Koirala, premier for 20 months until last October, played a pivotal role in drafting a controversial new constitution aimed at unifying the impoverished country following the end in 2006 of a decade-long Maoist insurgency.
He came in for heavy criticism for his government’s sluggish response to a massive earthquake that devastated the Himalayan nation last April and killed nearly 9,000 people.
Koirala, who had battled chronic bronchitis and other illnesses, was diagnosed with pneumonia last week, his doctor Kabirnath Yogi said.
‘He was taking medicine and was even showing improvement yesterday. But at 11 last night his condition suddenly deteriorated,’ said Yogi, an associate professor at Kathmandu’s Teaching Hospital.
He died shortly before 1:00am before the ambulance arrived, Yogi said.
Koirala headed the country’s biggest political party, the Nepali Congress, and was tasked as premier with writing the long-delayed new constitution to complete a stalled peace process.
The constitution, the first to be drawn up by elected representatives, was meant to bolster Nepal’s transformation from a Hindu monarchy to a democratic republic.
But more than 50 people were killed in clashes between police and members of an ethnic minority protesting against the charter, which they say leaves them politically marginalised.
The constitution’s adoption in September paved the way for parliament to elect a new premier and Koirala lost his bid for a second term to KP Sharma Oli.

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