Kenyans protest MPs' high pay

2013-05-14 17:22
Kenya parliament. (AFP)

Kenya parliament. (AFP)

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Nairobi - Kenyan police fired teargas and water cannon outside parliament on Tuesday to disperse about 200 people demonstrating against lawmakers' demands for a salary 130 times the legal minimum wage.

Civil rights groups organised the protest to express widespread anger that politicians are demanding a pay rise so soon after a broadly peaceful election on 4 March.

Protesters fed pigs' blood to live pigs at the gates of parliament in the capital Nairobi to symbolise a political class widely regarded as greedy and corrupt.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya's new president and its richest man, said last week that holding down the state wage bill was key to directing public funds into economic development.

But the appeal was lost on lawmakers, whose pay has been set at $6 300 per month by the state's Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

Handouts by politicians are common in Kenya, and MPs say they need more money to help pay constituents' school and medical expenses, as well as to reflect their stature.

They are demanding basic monthly pay of about $6 300, excluding other allowances - similar to what lawmakers were paid during the last parliament.

Kenyatta increased the minimum wage by 14% this month to $77.54 a month - although many of the 80% of Kenyan workers employed in the informal sector earn less than this.

In January, hundreds of demonstrators torched coffins outside parliament in protest at legislators who had voted to triple their end-of-term bonuses - an increase that outgoing president Mwai Kibaki refused to sign into law.

Read more on:    kenya  |  east africa

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