The President of Cameroon was reported on
Friday to be running up hotel bills of almost £25,000 a day during a
three-week break in the south of France.
In a holiday described by his government as his "right", President
Paul Biya has taken 43 rooms in the five-star L'Hermitage Barriere in
the resort of La Baule on the Atlantic coast.
While the average
annual income in the West African nation is less than £700 a year, the
President's outlay for his 20-day stay will total more than £700,000,
French media reported.
That calculation does not include costs
for shopping trips for Mr Biya's wife, Chantal, and her entourage,
nights in the casino or tennis matches on one of 29 courts in the
country club attached to the hotel.
By comparison, President
Barack Obama's week-long holiday in Martha's Vineyard is reported to
have cost less than £25,000 and was paid for out of the Obama family's
Mr Biya's party checked into the 192-room hotel,
which has five suites, soon after he met President Nicolas Sarkozy on
official business in Paris. Mr Biya, 76, one of Africa's
longest-serving leaders, was also awarded a "mayor's medal" from La
Baule's town authorities, who described him as a "good friend".
in Cameroon have reported outrage among ordinary people. But the
country's information minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, defended Mr
Biya's "right" to his holiday.
"Like any other worker, President Paul Biya has a right to his vacations," said he said.
is not a privilege but a right, which he can exercise wherever he
wishes to do so, with the means put at his disposal by the sovereign
people, by the electors, to clothe himself, for his accommodation, for
his feeding, for his health care, to provide his needs."