Kenyans protest 'greedy pig' lawmakers after salary hike

Dancing Kenyan demonstrators paraded a giant papier-mache pig doused in animal blood outside parliament Tuesday to protest wage hikes for newly elected lawmakers.

A few hundred placard-waving "Occupy Parliament" protesters then smashed the pig at the gates of parliament, pouring animal blood over it and themselves and chanting slogans demanding MPs cut their pay.

Protestors also waved fake banknotes and placards with the slogan "MPigs".

"I'm your employer!" one banner read. "Help the needy, not the greedy," read another.

Last month Kenyan lawmakers voted themselves a pay rise, overturning cuts ordered by the national salaries commission and reinstating their hefty paychecks, some of the best legislative salaries in the world.

Their tax-free monthly salary in the previous parliament was cut by almost 40 percent to around 532,000 shillings ($6,200, 4,600 euros).

But lawmakers shrugged off the commission's orders -- and defied pleas from President Uhuru Kenyatta -- and boosted their pay back to 851,000 shillings ($10,000, 7,500 euros).

"Kenyans are not willing to pay for the rise," said one of the demonstration's organisers, Florence Kanyua, noting it was the people who paid lawmakers' salaries through their taxes.

"The teachers, the police, the doctors, the nurses are poorly paid.... But the MPs don't think about those issues," she added.

Tuesday's protest follows a demonstration last month in which live piglets were released outside parliament.

"Our parliament is defying our democracy.... It is an impunity we can't accept," said protestor John Nyaga, a student.

Dozens of police armed with batons, helmets and tear gas were deployed around the parliament in the centre of Nairobi, but the event passed off peacefully.

"Most Kenyans live in extreme poverty," said Kenyan academic and expert on constitutional law Yash Pal Ghai, noting that increasing lawmakers' salaries would add to already heavy public debt.

"The economy of this country cannot afford it," said Khelef Khalifa, chairman of the Muslims for Human Rights organisation.