In an emotional appeal, ailing former Nepal Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has asked the Maoists to withdraw their anti-government agitation for the sake of “national unity” and work for taking the peace process to its logical conclusion.

Talking to Nepal Television from his hospital bed, the 86-year-old Nepali Congress president last night said the former rebels should find a “middle way” in order to end the present political stalemate in the country.

Mr. Koirala’s call comes a day after Maoist chief Prachanda issued an ultimatum to the government to restore “civilian supremacy” by November 20 or face stepped up protests. Tens of thousands of Maoist cadres laid siege to a key administrative complex here on Thursday and Friday.

“I have only one request to the Maoists, please give up protests for the sake of national unity and consensus,” Mr. Koirala said talking to press for the first time after he was admitted to the Martyr Ganga Lal Heart Centre here on Tuesday.

He was hospitalised after the oxygen level in his blood dipped and he complained of weakness. Mr. Koirala was suffering from pneumonia for some time.

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