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Nepal PM in hospital, to skip parliament address

Written by: Staff
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KATHMANDU, July 4 (Reuters) Nepal's ailing Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has been hospitalised and would not attend parliament today to present the government's annual policy statement, officials and doctors said.

The 84-year-old politician was admitted yesterday night and is in the intensive care unit of the Gangalal Heart Centre in Kathmandu after complaining of chest problems.

''We have advised the cancellation of his public commitments for two days,'' Koirala's doctor, Madhu Ghimire, told reporters.

''He is in a stable condition,'' another doctor said.

His family says he has problems in the right lung, a chest infection and needs rest.

''He cannot go to parliament and deliver his address today,'' Sushil Koirala, a senior member of parliament and Koirala's nephew, told Reuters.

The address was to be the first by a prime minister after the parliament curtailed King Gyanendra's legislative role and stripped him of his control over the 90,000-strong army.

Earlier, the king used to read the statement outlining the government's annual policies and programmes.

Koirala underwent prostate surgery in Bangkok last month.

He was appointed prime minister in April after King Gyanendra relinquished power following weeks of mass protests. He has since avoided most public events due to his poor health.

The swearing in of Koirala, the consensus choice of the seven political parties that organised the pro-democracy protests in April, was delayed a few days because of bronchitis.

Koirala, serving his fifth term as premier, met Maoist rebel chief Prachanda last month and the two sides agreed to include the guerrillas in the interim administration.

That move is seen as a first step towards ending a decade-old Maoist insurgency in which more than 13,000 people have been killed, but prompted a warning of a possible aid freeze from the United States, which lists the Maoists as a terrorist group.

REUTERS CH KN0957

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