Kenya police fire teargas at protest over MPs' higher pay demand

A protester washes his face after the police lobbed teargas outside Parliament buildings in Nairobi where members of the civil society demonstrated against the move by members of the 11th Parliament to have their salaries increased on May 14, 2013. Photo/SALATON NJAU

What you need to know:

  • The protesters, led by Mr Kiai said the demonstrations were the beginning of a series of events that have been planned against MP’s demand for higher pay.

Police used teargas canisters, water cannons, live bullets and buttons to disperse members of the civil society who laid siege on Parliament to protest the planned increase of MPs salaries.

Chanting slogans “Bunge sio biashara" (Parliament is not trade), the demonstrators led by human rights activist Maina Kiai, Timothy Njoya, Yash Pal Ghai and Boniface Mwangi defied orders to open the way for MPs to access main Parliament buildings leading to the ruthless force.

The demonstrators who protested against the intended increase of MPs salary from the Sh542,500 set by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) accused the MPs of greed.

Police on horseback pushed the demonstrators away after teargas canisters were lobbed on them. A water cannon tried to spray demonstrators but they defied and braved the same.

Anti-riot police fired live bullets while others used the batons to clobber the defiant activists overpowering them after nearly 40 minutes of sit in.

The protesters, led by Mr Kiai said the demonstrations were the beginning of a series of events that have been planned against MP’s demand for higher pay.

The demonstrations came a day after the SRC defended its decision to set the legislators salaries down from the Sh850,000 earned by the previous Parliament.

The demonstrators blocked the main entry to Parliament, waving placards and shouting insults at MPs who last week spoke to a petition by Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi seeking the removal of Ms Sarah Serem-led commission.

They attempted to occupy Parliament grounds but anti-riot police stationed there blocked their entry. The demonstrators barricaded the entry from MPs' Continental House and County Hall offices as anti-riot police kept vigil.

Several MPs were caught in the standoff as some demonstrators carrying pigs soaked in blood pushed and shoved to get to the lawmakers.

Several pigs were herded near the entry and blood poured making it difficult for MPs on foot to cross to main Parliament buildings.

A mature pig and several young ones remained behind rummaging the blood soaked tarmac after the demonstrators were dispersed.

Several demonstrators were arrested and locked up at Parliament’s police station.

MPs who came in after the skirmishes had subsided, were taken aback to find a group of blood soaked pigs rummaging.

Teargas canisters lobbed at the demonstrators spilled over to the main building leaving several lawmakers who were having their lunchtime meals coughing and shedding tears.

At Parliament's foyer heading to the debating chambers, was packed with several MPs who gathered to watch events outside through live television coverage with a number of them cursing the demonstrators.

“Let them have a test of their actions. Chief executives of small companies earn millions while we who represent large constituencies get peanuts. We have to fight for our rights, they can keep on demonstrating,” said an MP who congregated near the TV set to watch police using brutal force to disperse otherwise peaceful demonstrators.

On Monday, SRC said it will not bow to MPs pressure to increase pay saying the economy cannot sustain the huge salary demands.

She said that being an independent body, the SRC would not bow to threats and intimidation having designed the new salary scales scientifically and in accordance with law.

Ms Serem said her team had computed the figures after studying pay structures in 10 economies — five East African Community states, the US, UK, Canada, Ghana and South Africa. She said the SRC had also surveyed Kenya’s labour market where it discovered huge disparities between private and public sector salaries.

Mr Kiai said the move to stage demonstrations was meant to stop MPs and other state officers in their trucks so that none can be allowed to set own salaries.

“The issue of greed is what we want stopped. How can anyone set own salary. If that is allowed, then engineers, teachers and others will do the same. This demonstration is about ensuring accountability since we are their employers,” said Mr Kiai outside Parliament.

He urged Kenyans to turn out in large numbers “to occupy Parliament” and ensure that the MPs don’t increase their pay.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.