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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Maathai condemns Kenyan MPs' pay
Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize last year
Kenyan Nobel peace laureate Wangari Maathai has criticised her fellow MPs for increasing their travel allowance.

She told the BBC that the government had been wrong to approve a rise to some $4,500 a month at a time of food shortages and destructive floods.

MPs had threatened to block famine relief legislation unless it was paid.

"MPs need not find it necessary to receive such high salaries especially where some 56% of our people live below the poverty line," Prof Maathai said.

We must address poverty. Kenya is one of the most inequitable countries in the world
Wangari Maathai
MP and Nobel Peace Laureate

The travel allowances, backdated to July, will cost Kenyan taxpayers $280m and have caused widespread anger.

"I think it is partly that, that has made the public extremely unhappy about the way we in parliament appear to constantly increase our salaries and allowance," she told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Prof Maathai said she planned to use her additional allowance to pay for school fees and HIV treatment for people in her Tetu constituency, as more needed to be done to fight poverty in the country.

"Kenya is one of the most inequitable countries in the world because we have not promoted economic policies and political policies that promote equity," she said.

Prof Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for her environmental campaign work.


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