Kenyan president rejects lawmakers' hefty retirement package

Demonstrators protest outside parliament in Nairobi on October 9, 2012 after lawmakers voted themselves a $110,000 bonus.

Story highlights

  • Kenyan lawmakers had awarded themselves a bonus of $110K each, among other perks
  • President shuns the bill, orders attorney general to redraft it to ensure it complies with the constitution
  • An average Kenyan makes $1,800 annually; it would take 61 years to earn the bonus amount
  • It was the lawmakers' second attempt in four months to pass the bill
For the second time in four months, the Kenyan president Saturday rejected an attempt by lawmakers to award themselves a retirement bonus of $110,000 each and a series of other perks.
Parliament members passed the bill in a late night vote this week as the nation nears a general election in March.
In addition to the bonus, the retirement package for parliament members included diplomatic passports for them and and their spouses, a state funeral and VIP access to the nation's airport lounges.
"President Mwai Kibaki has today declined to assent to the retirement benefits ... as enacted by the National Assembly on Thursday," the president said in a short statement Saturday.
He ordered the attorney general to redraft the bill to ensure it complies with the constitution, and submit it to the speaker. It's unclear what will happen after that -- the president is not running for re-election.
In October, Kibaki blocked another attempt by lawmakers to award themselves bonuses, calling it unconstitutional and unaffordable.
Kenyan parliament members are among the highest paid in Africa. An average Kenyan makes about $1,800 annually, and would have to work for 61 years to earn the bonus amount.
The package sparked an outrage among citizens, who had vowed to take to the streets in protest next week.
When lawmakers passed the October bill in another late-night vote, throngs gathered outside parliament offices and hollered "thieves" as lawmakers dashed into their offices. The president vetoed that bill hours after the protests.
Before parliament passed the proposal the first time, it had shot down wage demands of public workers, citing lack of funds.
"You can see we are dealing with selfish people," said Edward Mburu, 38, who lives in Nairobi. "People are angry. ... I hope it translates into conscious voting."
The March vote will be the first general poll since violence left hundreds dead after a disputed election in 2008.