10 October 2012

Kenya: President Kibaki Rejects MPs' Send-Off Pay

President Kibaki has declined to assent to the amendment to the Finance Bill that was passed by Parliament last week terming it unconstitutional and untenable.

The amendment had caused an outrage with members of the civil society taking to the streets to protest the decision. Meanwhile Kibaki has assented to the amendment in the electoral laws extending the period to January 4th, 2013 during which MPs should have chosen the political party on which to seek nomination and contest a political seat in the elections.

Yesterday, a group of social media activists going by the tag name 'Kenyans on Twitter' held a demonstration to protest a move by members of parliament to increase their send-off packages after the current parliament is dissolved.

The demonstration began at 10:30am with only a handful of demonstrators mostly from Bunge La Wananchi lobby group and the Unga Revolution civil group. The group marched from Hilton Hotel to the offices of the Prime Minister and the President to present their petition against the bill.

The group later marched to parliament buildings where they chanted slogans against members of parliament. The activists urged the president not to assent to the bill which will see the 222 legislators go home with Sh9.3 million each.

Influential blogger Robert Alai, one of the organisers of the demonstration said the agenda of the protest was to express their displeasure at the lawmakers selfish behaviour. He said, "We want to make it known that we are not happy that MPs have awarded themselves Sh2 billion as a sendoff package."

Alai said he's optimistic that the president wouldn't assent to the bill. He however said that should the president sign the bill into law, the group would seek legal redress through the courts to challenge it.

Musician Eric Wainaina questioned the priorities of the legislators in agreeing to the bill. "Their priorities are all wrong. Just because they are close to the pie as it were, they are cutting themselves larger slices."

A handful of members of parliament on Thursday last week decided to award themselves a gratuity package of Sh2.1 billion which has since elicited sharp criticism from individuals and groups across the country. Today's demonstration was a culmination of growing dissatisfaction of Kenyans with the lawmakers.

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