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Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 12:59 UK

Kenya seeks to end prison strike

Kenyan prisoners
The prison warders say they are the lowest paid security officers

Kenya's government has agreed to most of the demands of striking prison warders, who are threatening to start releasing prisoners.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka said the government would give them an extra $80 risk allowance, as well as $160 for helping quell election violence.

The warders had warned they would free convicts on Monday, including Maina Njenga leader of the Mungiki sect.

Shots have been heard at the Kamiti prison, raising fears of an escape bid.

There are few details of the situation at the prison, just outside the capital, Nairobi.

Warders are staging sit-ins at the country's prisons - they are guarding the gates and manning the watchtowers but are not working inside the prisons.

Several senior prison officers have been arrested over the strike, which began on Friday.

'Unacceptable'

Mr Musyoka, who is also home affairs minister, visited a prison on Sunday to try to calm the situation.

"I would like to appeal to warders to continue with the usual duties with the full confidence that their minister, who is concerned with their affairs, has heard and responded to your pleas and the process of resolving your grievances has started," he said.

As well as the extra allowances, Mr Musyoka also said they would be given free uniforms, addressing another of their grievances.

One prison officer told the BBC it was unfair that they had not been given the extra money, unlike other security services.

"The Kenyan police have been awarded the risk allowance of 5,000 [shillings, $80]. And now we're being put aside. And we're uniformed staff. Where do we fall?"

The BBC's Josphat Makori says many prisoner warders are living in mud huts, which they sometimes have to share.

"This is extremely unacceptable," the Standard newspaper quotes Mr Musyoka as saying.

"How does one expect married officers to share a room with grown children and single officers?"



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