Former Nepal PM Koirala's last rites to be performed today

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Kathmandu, March 21 (ANI): The last rites of former Nepal Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who breathed his last on Saturday, will be performed at the Pashupati Aryaghat in Kathmandu on Sunday afternoon with full state honours.

Koirala's body has been taken to the Nepali Congress office at Sanepa to enable the party workers to pay their last homage to the leader.

His body will later be taken to Dashrath Rangashala, where it will be kept till 2 p.m. so that the people are able to pay their last respects to the former Prime Minister.

The Nepalese Cabinet has declared a national holiday and the national flag will fly at half-mast for three days in Nepal and all its missions abroad.

President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the leaders of various political outfits have condoled the death of Koirala, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Nepal.

Dr Singh described Koirala as one of the tallest leaders and an elder statesman of South Asia, who had an enlightened vision of India-Nepal relations.

India is deputing a high-level delegation to Kathmandu, comprising Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to attend the funeral.

Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav on Saturday condoled the passing away of Koirala saying the death of Koirala marks the end of an era in Nepalese politics.

Born on 1925, Koirala 85, had been Prime Minister of Nepal four times, serving from 1991 to 1994, 1998 to 1999, 2000 to 2001, and from 2006 to 2008; he was also Acting Head of State from January 2007 to July 2008.

Koirala staked his political career on making peace with the Maoist rebels who waged a decade-long insurgency against the state.

He also played a crucial role in turning Nepal into a Republic through abolition of 240-year-old monarchy two years ago. (ANI)

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