Friday, September 4, 2009

French press slam African leader’s lavish holidays

Presidential holidays have often turned into poisoned gifts for world leaders whose summer activities are scrutinised by press and pundits. Cameroon's President Paul Biya is the latest to attract media attention for his costly holidays in the fashionable French sea resort of La Baule.
The presidential couple, Paul, his wife Chantal and their followers, have taken up residence in two luxury hotels in the western resort, occupying 43 rooms for three weeks at an estimated total cost of 800,000 euros, according to French media reports. And that’s not including restaurants, shopping sprees and luxury spas.
Staff at five-star hotel L’Hermitage confirmed that the Cameroonian leader was staying at the hotel for three weeks but refused to comment on the number of rooms he had booked.
Biya’s holidays has attracted much media attention because France announced in July it would grant Cameroon 537 million euros over five years to battle debt and poverty. According to the CIA factbook, almost half of the Cameroonian population lives below the poverty line.
According to French website Rue89, the added costs of summer holidays for US President Barack Obama, former US president George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have all been dwarfed by Biya’s expenses during his visit to La Baule.
The Obama family relaxed for a week on the US island Martha’s Vineyard, renting a house for an estimated 24,000 to 35,000 euros at their own expense. The question begs to be answered, who will foot the bill for Biya’s slinky French vacations?
Honoured in La Baule
While the press have been picking at Biya’s expenses, La Baule's mayor Yves Metaireau chose to honour the African leader and grant him the town’s medal of honour during a ceremony at the town hall on Friday.
“We are receiving a friend,” said the mayor, who refrained from commenting on Cameroonian politics and the country’s poor human rights record.
“This is the third time we have visited La Baule. We are very attached to this town and we are sure to come back,” said Biya in an interview with French daily Ouest France.
Meanwhile, French anti-corruption NGOs regularly accuse Biya of embezzlement and organisation Transparency International rates the country as one of the world’s most corrupt states.
Paris-based NGO CCFD, whose enquiries into properties owned by African leaders led to a legal probe in May, has accused Biya of using public funds to buy a villa in France and to fund an esoteric organisation, known as l’Osti.

Please watch the video here:
Submitted by Honorine Umutoni GASASIRA


  1. This is very interesting! This kind of thing only happens in Africa, an 80- something year old man (close to his grave!) that has ruled a Country that has nothing to show for it for almost 26 years. What has happened to the various check- institutions?

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  3. Unfortunately, Biya is not the only one African Dictator OOPs I mean President taking costly holidays with an important delegation. Wade (Sénégal) who is also in holidays in France and Switzerland was due to return on Thursday, but he decided to come back tomorrow (Monday). When in France or abroad, these presidents are having high expenses for unnecessary stuff when their people are suffering from floods, electricity cuts and the recession. Really sad. Revolution is not far as the singer was saying...

  4. I saw this on TV but it was in French, thanks for posting the English version.

    Please, we need to plead to the French government he should not release the money to Cameroon but when you think about it, people like them Biya's wont be affected, it will the ordinary Cameroonians that will be affected. I cant understand how greedy and selfish our leaders are, its such a shame. 800,000 Euros for 3 weeks, I wish thunder could strike him and die, lol. That’s’ just not human at all, when there’s soo much poverty in his country its a shame.

    I think that French Mayor is an hypocrite if it were the other way round and they French heard that Sarkozy had spent 800,000 Euros of tax payers money in some African country, i don’t think he'll still be president.

    Really I think our leaders are silly a times they don’t think, am sorry to make this generalization but the west wants us to be forever dependent on them and seeing our foolish leaders they are more content with being a follower.