Africa

PM Raila Odinga criticises Kenya MPs' huge pay rise

Raila Odinga
Image caption Raila Odinga has been told not to resume full duties for two weeks

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga has strongly criticised MPs for voting themselves a huge pay increase.

If the rise is passed, allowances mean they would each earn up to $126,000 (£84,000) after tax, making them among the world's best-paid politicians.

"It is unfair. It is sending very wrong signals to the people of this country," said Mr Odinga shortly after his release from hospital.

He had an operation to relieve fluid on the brain last week.

The MPs' vote has aroused widespread public anger.

The head of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions in Kenya (Cotu), Francis Atwoli, has threatened to call a one-week national strike if the hike goes ahead.

Although the lawmakers approved the 18% pay rise last week, cabinet is due to discuss it on Tuesday.

Sources told Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper that ministers were likely to reject the proposal.

With a referendum on a new constitution - supported by the majority of government ministers - only a month away, many political observers think the cabinet may drop the unpopular salary increase.

Mr Odinga said he was satisfied with his current salary and urged MPs to consider other priorities.

Under the proposed rise, the prime minister's salary would rise to $40,000 (£26,000) a month - a third more than the British prime minister earns and 10% more than the US president.

However, the increase would not come into effect until the next parliament, by which time the post of prime minister might have been abolished if the new constitution is passed.

"Without mincing words, I am totally against the idea of MPs adding salaries to themselves arbitrarily," Mr Odinga said.

The MPs' basic pay would be $44,000 (£29,000) a year. But they also have numerous perks and allowances, including $370 (£250) a day for turning up in parliament.

Average annual income in Kenya is about $730 (£490), while most of the population earns less than $1 (66p) a day.

Mr Odinga left hospital on Sunday and has been told not to resume full duties for two weeks.

He became prime minister two years ago when he joined a power-sharing government set up to end months of political violence after his supporters said he had been cheated of victory in the December 2007 elections.

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