11 January 2013

Kenya: Lawmakers' Send-Off Bonuses 'Unacceptable', Odinga Says

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Friday (January 11th) condemned lawmakers' vote on Wednesday to award themselves 9.3-million shilling ($107,000) send-off bonuses, calling the move "treachery, blackmail and an attempt to arm twist and even bribe the executive for them to have their way", Kenya's Capital FM reported.

"In a nation struggling with hunger, insecurity, unemployment, wanting health services, rising cost of education and numerous other shortcomings, I find no words to explain and justify the proposed packages to our suffering citizens," Odinga said in a statement.

The payoff -- at a potential cost of $23.7 million to the country -- was sneaked through by lawmakers late Wednesday, with the vote only coming to public attention on Thursday after official parliamentary transcripts were published.

The proposed bill also includes diplomatic passports for the lawmakers and their spouses, unlimited access to VIP lounges in all Kenyan airports, state funerals and armed security even after they retire.

Odinga said the move will overshadow the achievements made by the 10th parliament and the coalition government.

Attorney General Githu Muigai said on Twitter that President Mwai Kibaki "should not sign the new bill about the golden handshake since he rejected it earlier". In October, Kibaki vetoed a similar bill, calling it "unconstitutional, and secondly untenable in the prevailing economic circumstances in the country".

Odinga said he will consult with President Mwai Kibaki "to ensure that we do the right thing for the people of Kenya".

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