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PM Koirala: 'Poorest World Leader'?

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By A Correspondent

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala might be described as the “weakest prime minister in the history of Nepal” by his critics due to his inability to give full-shape to his cabinet nearly two months after being sworn in as the head of the government, but he may soon hog the international media headlines by snatching the crown of ‘poorest world leader’ from his Uruguayan counterpart, if one is to go by some influential international media.

Citing property details published on Nepal government website which states that the 75-year-old prime minister has no other assets to his name other than three mobile phones (one being an iPhone and another that doesn’t’ work), BBC reported that Koirala might qualify as one of the world’s “poorest” heads of government.

“Even in his hometown of Nepalgunj in western Nepal, Mr Koirala does not have any land, unusual in a country where people normally associated politicians with wealth…he stays at the residence of his brother whenever he visits the city,” writes BBC’s Sanjaya Dhakal.

A blog post in Wastingon Post went even further to declare that Jose Mujica, the President of Uruguay who is often described as the “world’s poorest president”, might lose his crown of world’s ‘poorest’ world leader to the Nepali prime minister. 

“…even compared to Mujica, whose only listed possession is a 20-year-old Volkswagon Beetle, reportedly valued at $1,900 in 2010. Koirala reportedly owns no land either: He lived in a rented house until recently; he's now residing in the prime minister's official residence. Koirala's lifestyle is said to come from his simple tastes,” writes Adam Taylor in his Washington Post blog.

Meanwhile, BBC’s Dhakal writes that Koirala has had a clean image from the start, adding that the Nepali prime minister’s austere lifestyle is in sharp contrast to some other members of the government who are believed to be millionaires.

However, on Taylor's blog post on Sushil Koirala and Jose Mujica, a Nepali reader commented, " ...nobody considers Sushil Koirala as being 'poor' although his living style is not lavish. He may be frugal in the way he lives (or used to live before becoming prime minister), the two old cellphone sets that he declared as his sole possessions is just a joke."

The commentator further wrote that Koirala lives "a moderately good life, received costly medical treatment in USA and rode a Japanese SUV even before he became prime minister."

"The mansion he was staying in before moving into government house was sprawling one," the reader wrote.

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