Paul Kagame – the Absentee President

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When the United States President Barack Obama recently pressed ahead with Martha’s Vineyard holiday during Iraq crisis, he came under fire with some calling him “the Absentee President.” Critics questioned how the President could play golf on Martha’s Vineyard in the middle of crises. At least Obama was in the United States, an hour away from Washington, DC, in a country that has a full-time vice president.

In the Rwanda case, Kagame has been overseas for nearly one month, globe-trotting to Atlanta, New York City, Dubai, Trieste, Italy and Kampala, Uganda.

Who actually runs the country when the Absentee ruler is away? How much do his global adventures cost the Rwandan taxpayers?

HERE IS KAGAME’S MOST RECENT ITINERARY

# 19 Sept 2014: Visits Mercier University, Atlanta, USA.

# 20 Sept: Attends Rwanda Day, Atlanta

# 21-26 Sept: UN events, New York City

# 27 Sept: Global Citizen Festival, New York City

# 1 Oct: Global Business Forum, Dubai

# 3 Oct: Rwanda Smart Days, Kigali, Rwanda

# 5 Oct: 50th anniversary of International Center for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy

# 7 Oct: Uganda-Rwanda Business Forum, Kampala, Uganda

# 9 Oct: Uganda Independence celebrations, Kampala, Uganda.

This Kagame global itinerary consumed some 23 days – with brief stopover in Rwanda to attend Rwanda Smart Days, between the Dubai and Italian events.

WHAT DO THESE TRIPS COST RWANDANS?

A Gulfstream executive jet in which President Kagame travels, costs US$8,600 per hour on the open market.http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2013/02/13/thirty-amazing-facts-about-private-jets/

The particular jet chartered for the Rwandan President is said to be owned by Kagame’s RPF holding company, Crystal Ventures Ltd. Perhaps RPF (which is Kagame himself) may be giving President Kagame some kind of discount – who knows. Accommodation-wise, presidential suites in a five-star hotel range between US$5,000 to over US$10,000.00 a day – Kagame has been known to stay in US$20,000.00 a day suite. Add travel and accommodation costs of ministers and staff that can number over 20, and for Rwanda Day, over 100 people.

It is unlikely that a Kagame presidential trip would cost the taxpayers less than US$1,000,000.00 – a highly conservative estimate.

WHO GOVERNS WHILE THE PRESIDENT IS AWAY FOR ALMOST A MONTH?

This question I am unable to even guess.

Dr David Himbara

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