KATHMANDU: Former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, a moderate figure in Nepal’s unsettled politics, died on Tuesday, presenting a potential hurdle in attempts to win greater rights for minorities in a new constitution.
Koirala (76), a senior figure in one of Nepal’s biggest political dynasties, stood down as prime minister in October. He died overnight of respiratory illness, one of his doctors said, at his nephew’s home in Kathmandu.
He had helped prepare Nepal’s first republican constitution that, its authors hoped, would take the Himalayan nation closer to stability and peace after years of conflict and the abolition of the 239-year-old monarchy.
Koirala was head of the centrist Nepali Congress party, the largest opposition group in parliament, and had been expected to face a leadership challenge next month.
Nepal has been in turmoil since the new constitution was adopted in September. The ethnic Madhesi community launched protests against the charter, saying it did not address their desire for a greater say in government.
Laxman Lal Karna, from the Sadbhavana Party that organised those protests, said Koirala’s death would not derail talks aimed at securing greater rights for minorities.
Others said his death presented a succession problem for the Koirala dynasty. He never married.
“More crucial will be who will carry the legacy of the Koirala dynasty that has produced four prime ministers in the past and dominated the Nepali Congress party in the past six decades,” said Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of the Annapurna Post daily.
The Congress will hold a leadership election next month, with some in the party saying it could then seek to engineer the downfall of Prime Minister K.P. Oli, whose tough line against Madhesi protesters has angered India.
The front runner to take over as party leader is Sher Bahadur Deuba, a three-time former prime minister who comes from the same social democratic tradition as Koirala and would likely show little sympathy towards the constitutional protesters.
Although talks have made scant progress on meeting the grievances of minority Madhesis, who live in Nepal’s southern plains and have close ties to India, tensions eased when they lifted a border blockade on Monday.
That could pave the way for Oli to visit India later this month after Nepal’s finance minister met government leaders in New Delhi over the weekend.
Koirala spent several years in India, where he had close political ties. He was jailed there for three years for his role in the hijacking of a Nepali plane during the democracy struggle of the 1970s.
Thousands of mourners, many carrying bouquets of flowers, gathered outside the house where Koirala’s body lay.
“He was a good-mannered and a moderate leader. I feel very sorry,” said Chabilal Tamang, a Kathmandu vendor.
Congress General Secretary Prakash Man Singh told state television a funeral would likely be held on Wednesday.
Koirala had undergone treatment for tongue cancer in the United States and was given a clean bill of health in November before succumbing to pneumonia and bronchitis, aides said.
CHARLOTTE: Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand are giving $100 million to organizations dedicated to promoting racial equality and social justice. In a joint statement Friday on social media, Jordan and the Jordan Brand said money will be paid over 10 years with the goal of “ensuring racial equ Read More...
KATHMANDU: HAMS Hospital in Dhumbarahi has stated that there is nothing to panic for other health service seekers as the hospital has been treating a COVID-19 patient under strict and safe protocol. The hospital has been treating a COVID-19 patient, a 60-year-old man from Pokhara, keeping him at Read More...
KATHMANDU, JUNE 5 A day after the Insurance Board instructed all non-life insurance companies to halt the Corona Insurance scheme, it has directed them to give continuity to the scheme. Though the Corona Insurance scheme was included in the budget for fiscal 2020-21, non-life insurance firms h Read More...
KATHMANDU: Nepal has recorded two more coronavirus related deaths, on Saturday, which has taken the nationwide COVID-19 death toll to 13. The Ministry of Health and Population confirmed the fatalities in its regular media briefing this afternoon. Among the deceased are a 58-year-old man from D Read More...
MUMBAI: India reported a record 9,887 new coronavirus cases in one day on Saturday and overtook Italy as the world's sixth-biggest outbreak, two days before the relaxing of a lockdown with the reopening of malls, restaurants and places of worship. With its total number of cases rising to m Read More...
KATHMANDU Creativity is an ever-flowing river, and for artists in Nepal, channelling creativity to create works of art during the lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak has become a way to stay productive and find creative solace. Artist Sundar Lama who shares that a serene environment is Read More...
KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Health and Population has reported 323 new cases of the coronavirus infection on Saturday, taking Nepal’s tally to 3,235. Of the newly infected, 286 are males and 37 are females. In total, 3,003 males and 232 females have been recorded to have contracted the disease, Read More...