Girija Prasad Koirala died - long live Koirala legacy!

Last rites with state honor; Govt declares Sunday public holiday; National flag at half mast for three days

The man who fought for democracy during the greater part of an over 60 year political journey is no more.

President of the Nepali Congress and former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Saturday afternoon after falling unconscious for over 12 hours. He was 86.

"Former prime minister Koirala died at 12:10 p.m. despite efforts to treat his asthma and lung ailment," said Dr Man Bahadur KC, who has been attending on Koirala for years, announcing the death of the octogenarian leader at his daughter´s residence at Mandikhatar in the capital where Koirala breathed his last.

Koirala´s close aide Krishna Prasad Sitaula told Republica that Koirala fell unconscious soon after he went to sleep at 11 p.m., Friday. The five-time prime minister did not regain consciousness.

He will be cremated at Aryaghat at Pashupatinath Temple complex on Sunday afternoon. Before that, his body will be kept at Dasharath Stadium to allow people to pay their last respects.

As Koirala´s condition deteriorated last Sunday, he was admitted to Sahid Gangalal Hospital and was discharged last Wednesday after there was an improvement in his health. But his health deteriorated again Thursday night, with a bout of diarrhea. On Friday evening, his doctors said Koirala was recuperating.

Rumors about the NC president started doing the rounds since early Saturday morning when reports about his falling unconscious leaked out. Thousands of people, many of them NC supporters, thronged Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala´s residence at Mandikhatar where her father had moved from his Maharajgunj home on March 12.

The visitors, who came over long distances, looked anxious to learn about Koirala´s condition as there was no official announcement of his death even two hours after he breathed his last. Doctors announced Koirala´s death at about 2 p.m. Before that, an emergency meeting of the Nepali Congress Central Working Committee was held at Mandikhatar.

Last November, when Koirala fell seriously ill, he was taken to Singapore by air ambulance. He received treatment at Gleneagles Hospital, a 380-bed private tertiary acute care facility there.

President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, Vice-President Paramananda Jha and Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal visited Mandikhatar to offer their tributes to the late Koirala. Ministers, politicians, diplomats, intellectuals and people from different walks of life also reached there to offer their tributes.

With the ever increasing number of people showing no signs of leaving, the Koirala family placed the body at the premises at about 3.30 p.m. to allow people to offer their tributes. Long queues formed and paid their last respects with tearful eyes.

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