Nepal’s three-time premier of monarchy era Kirti Nidhi Bista dies at 90

A politician who was entrusted with heading the government by two generations of the country’s former monarchs, died after a prolonged battle with cancer

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 November, 2017, 7:23pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 November, 2017, 10:47pm

Kirti Nidhi Bista, a three-time former prime minister during Nepal’s monarchy era, died in Kathmandu on Saturday, state television reported. He was 90.

Bista, a politician who was entrusted with heading the government by two generations of Nepal’s former monarchs, died after a prolonged battle with cancer.

He stepped down from politics after Nepal became a multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy in 1990.

However, after the bloodless coup staged by King Gyanendra in 2005, he was appointed a vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers chaired by Gyanendra.

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Gyanendra’s direct rule lasted until April 2006, when popular protests forced him to relinquish executive authority. Nepal abolished the monarchy two years later as part of a peace process with former Maoist rebels who staged an armed insurgency for 10 years until 2006, costing the lives of over 17,000 people.

In March 2016, Bista told Kyodo News in a phone interview that he had conquered cancer and was leading a quiet life “in fine health except for whatever comes with old age”.

Bista was born on December 20, 1926, in Kathmandu. Starting his political career in 1949, he became a close aide of late King Mahendra, father of Nepal’s last king, Gyanendra.

During the partyless Panchayat system initiated by Mahendra in 1960, Bista was appointed prime minister three times – from 1969 to 1970, 1971 to 1973 and 1977 to 1979.

The third tenure was during the reign of late King Birendra, the oldest son of Mahendra who was among the royals killed in a bizarre shoot-out that happened inside the palace in 2001.

The Panchayat system collapsed in 1990 following nationwide protests against the system under which political parties were banned.

In the democratic exercise that followed, Bista withdrew from public life until returning to serve as one of Gyanendra’s two deputies for over a year from 2005 to 2006.

In the days leading up to the monarchy’s abolition in 2008, Bista told Kyodo News in an interview that the monarchy was still useful in Nepal. He also predicted the revival of the institution.

“If the new political leadership fails to deliver, the monarchy might be revived. You can call me a staunch royalist. I will always have a lot of respect for the monarchy,” he said.

Bista, who was a widower, is survived by two sons and three daughters.