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Police use tear gas, truncheons on protestors

14 May 2013, 17:03

Nairobi - Kenyan demonstrators released two dozen piglets at the gates of parliament and poured blood on the pavement Tuesday to protest demands by newly elected lawmakers for a wage hike.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the protestors and beat others with truncheons. They scurried after the pigs as they scampered through the grassy area surrounding the parliament.

"We will not allow members of parliament to increase their salaries at will," shouted one of the protest organisers Okiya Omtatah.

"They are greedy just like the pigs we have brought here," Omtata added.

Mithika Linturi, a lawmaker supporting a proposed bill that would disband the commission that regulates MP's salaries, paving the way for a pay rise, said the protestors had little regard for the law and that "there are proper channels to air their grievances."

"Kenya is not a banana republic. This premise should be respected," Linturi told reporters as he made his way into parliament, adding that lawmakers had "a right to their opinions, even if they do not please everyone."

The bill is the first act of Kenya's lawmakers since their election in March 4 polls.

Kenyan lawmakers are already some of the best paid on the continent, although their tax-free monthly salary of some $13,000 (10,000 euro) in the previous parliament has been cut to around $7,000.

The wages were cut after recommendations by the salaries commission, the body MPs now wish to close.

"This will not end today, it will continue until action is taken, Kenyans are angry," said Maina Kiai, another protestor, as colleagues dumped jerry cans of pig guts at the entrance to parliament.

Some of the piglets had been daubed with the names of specific MPs on their bodies.

At least 10 people were arrested.

"We are trying to bring back sanity, we already have some of the demonstrators in custody," district police chief Patrick Oduma said.

In January, lawmakers voted themselves a $107,000 send-off bonus -- their last work before parliament closed ahead of elections -- after earlier efforts to grant themselves the windfall were vetoed by the then President Mwai Kibaki.

That effort too was blocked.

Police finally rounded up the pigs and loaded them onto a waiting lorry, but it was unclear what happened to them next.



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