Kenyan MPs vote $100,000 retirement bonus for themselves

BY: Abigail Bonsu

MPs in Kenya have awarded themselves a $107,000 (£65,000) retirement bonus in one of the last sessions of parliament before a general election in March.

The package will also provide them with an armed guard, a diplomatic passport and access to airport VIP lounges.

It is the second time the MPs have voted for "a golden handshake" - President Mwai Kibaki vetoed an attempt last year after widespread protests.

The MPs are among the highest paid in Africa, earning $13,000 a month.

The average yearly salary in Kenya is about $1,700.

The latest vote was passed on Wednesday with fewer than 30 MPs in the chamber - itself refurbished at a cost of $12m last year - according to parliamentary transcripts released on Thursday.

The retirement package is the same as that approved in October, but this time the MPs have also recommended bonuses for the president - almost $300,000 in cash and allowances - the vice-president and the prime minister.

When he vetoed the previous bill, Mr Kibaki said it was "untenable in the prevailing economic circumstances in the country".

The Salaries Review Commission told Kenyan media it was uncertain whether the vote was constitutional, while civil society groups have reacted with outrage.

The executive director of Kenya's Human Rights Commission. Atsango Chesoni, said the package was "preposterous and in completely bad taste".

During its term, the Kenyan parliament repeatedly dismissed the wage demands of striking public sector workers, arguing that the funds were not available.

 - BBC