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Kenyan MPs award themselves lavish bonuses and benefits package

The bonuses alone are worth more than most Kenyans even dream about earning.

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The Kenyan public protests corruption in Parliament June 28, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Kenyan Parliament has become notorious for its excess. (Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenya's parliament isn't known for its altruism.

Already among the best paid lawmakers in the world, living in one of the poorer nations, Kenya's parliamentarians voted this week to award themselves lavish bonuses and a life-long benefits package, according to media reports.

The bonuses alone are worth more than most Kenyans even dream about earning, and the public is far from pleased.

As a result of a late-night Thursday vote, Kenyan MPs will now receive $107,000 as an end-of-term bonus along with a hefty benefits package including personal bodyguards and state burial.

The president, vice president, and prime minister were also awarded significant retirement packages. The total compensation for the president would amount to nearly $300,000 in an apparent attempt to avoid a presidential veto.

Average salaries in Kenya are around $1,700 a year, according to GlobalPost's senior correspondent in Kenya, Tristan McConnell.

Meanwhile lawmakers already take home nearly 100 times that amount, a staggering $156,000. As a point of reference, that would be the rough equivalent of a US House Representative pulling in approximately $5 million a year when compared to average US household income.

"In addition to cash, they also decided they deserved lifelong VIP status within Kenya, diplomatic passports for travel abroad and state-funded bodyguards," GlobalPost's McConnell said, adding:

The benefits do not end with their death: they also voted for the state to pick up the tab for their funerals.

This isn't the first time Kenya's parliament has sought to increase its salaries, according to the BBC, which also reported that the bill was passed with fewer than 30 legislators present.

There have been several prior attempts, all met with furious public outcry and parliamentary retreat, they reported.

Reaction in Kenya has been scathing, according to McConnell in Nairobi.

Comments on the website of leading newspaper the Daily Nation compared the MPs to Islamist militants Al Shabaab, writing "They have no conscience."

Another paper printed: "Politicians in countries that we beg for donor aid are not entitled to this kind of mind boggling money that ours get."

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a leading contender in elections due this March said the recommendations are "unacceptable, unjustifiable and border on criminality."

Activist Boniface Mwangi has called for a symbolic "mass burial" to be held next week in which 222 coffins will be placed outside parliament, one for each MP.

He tweeted:

MP's want state burial, on Wednesday 16th January, we shall give them one. 222 coffins to be presented to them at parliament.

Should President Mwai Kibaki approve the bill, which he is likely to do given that the awards pertain to him as well, the Kenyan Treasury will be forced to dip into budgets in other sections of goverment to afford it, reported allAfrica

The Constitution Implementation Commission and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission have questioned the constitutionality of the law and called for its blockage.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/kenya/130111/kenyan-mps-vote-massive-benefits-package-end-term-bonuses