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World’s Most Austere Presidents

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Jose Mujica

Uruguay’s former President, Jose “Pepe” Mujica, was dubbed the “world’s poorest president” for good reason.

He served as the 40th President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. A former guerrilla with the Tupamaros, he was imprisoned for 13 years during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s.

A former Tupamaros guerrilla fighter in the 1960s and ‘70s, Mujica was shot multiple times and spent 13 years in jail in harsh, isolated conditions. When he was elected Uruguayan President in 2009, Mujica donated 90 percent of his presidential salary to charity and ditched the lavish presidential palace, opting instead to live in his ramshackle farm with his wife.

For the longest time, his sole personal asset amounted to a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. Mujica also fearlessly admonished other world leaders for their unfettered allowance of globalisation and inequality. Although Mujica left politics earlier this year, his almost mystical reputation as a political leader remains — and we suspect will linger for a while.

Joyce Banda

Shortly after being elected as the first female President of Malawi, Joyce Banda sold off the Presidential jet and the fleet of 60 Mercedes limousines in an effort to steer the then-struggling country to financial austerity. At the time, she said she didn’t mind flying commercial: “I am already used to hitchhiking,” she had joked.

Later, the money earned from selling the plane went to feeding more than 1 million people, the treasury department said. As someone who fled an abusive marriage to become the head of state, Banda also touted the importance of Malawian women’s economic independence.

She is the founder and leader of the People’s Party, created in 2011. An educator and grassroots World’s Most Austere Presidents women’s rights activist, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and Vice President of Malawi from May 2009 to April 2012.

Banda took office as President following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. She was Malawi’s fourth President. Before becoming President, she served as the country’s first female Vice-President.

Sushil Koirala

His term as Nepal’s Prime Minister may have been short-lived, but Sushil Koirala was widely lauded for eschewing the perks associated with being the leader of his country.

In a nation where politicians are typically associated with wealth, Koirala’s only declared assets while Prime Minister were three mobile phones.

Before moving into the official Prime minister residences, the BBC reported that he rented a house in Kathmandu. Koirala is also said to have stayed with his brother when he visited the city instead of a hotel.

Sushil Koirala was born to Bodh Prasad Koirala and Kuminidi Koirala on 12 August, 1939 in Biratnagar, second-largest city of Nepal.

Koirala was unmarried and known to live a simple life. A member of the politically prominent Koirala family, he was the cousin of former Prime Ministers, Matrika Prasad Koirala, Girija Prasad Koirala and Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala.

A heavy smoker, Koirala was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2006 and lung cancer in June 2014. He died on 10 February 2016 at 12:50 AM of pneumonia in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the age of 76. He used to be known as ‘Sushil daa’.

Sheikh Hasina

Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, is said to have a monthly salary of $800 (about N288000). Sheikh is ranked no. 59 in Forbes’ list of the ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’.

Her political career has spanned more than four decades during which she has been both Prime Minister and opposition leader.

She has been the leader of the ruling Awami League since 1981, and her father, Skeikh Mujibur Rahman, was the first President of the country and assassinated in 1975.

As opposition leader, she herself was the target of an assassination attempt in 2004. Two of the most outstanding achievements of Sheikh Hasina are her leadership-roles and success behind the trials of Bangabandhu killers and the persons who committed crimes against humanity in 1971.

Mark Rutte

Mark Rutte (born on 14 February, 1967) is a Dutch politician serving as the 50th and current Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 2010 and Leader of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy.

Rutte, who is still unmarried, is believed to live a simple and modest lifestyle. Rutte cycles to work every day.

He still teaches two hours a week at a secondary school, the Johan de Witt College in The Hague.

Taking notes in etiquettes, from this humble world leader, the 51-year-old Dutch Prime Minister mopped coffee spilled by him, while walking into the Ministry of Health.

Mark Rutte uses an old Nokia to make calls and send text messages. When taunted by his friends, he blamed his big thumbs for making it hard to use a smart phone.

 


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