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Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 17:40 UK

Kenyan anger at top spouses' pay

Raila and Ida Odinga
MPs say the salary of Prime Minister Odinga (l) should also support his wife

Kenyans are outraged by a proposal to pay hefty salaries to the wives of the prime minister and vice-president.

A leaked document says the head of civil service Francis Muthaura has directed that they each be paid $6,000 (3,000) every month.

But MPs have vowed to shoot down the proposal in parliament, saying it is too expensive for the economy.

Kenyan tax-payers are already paying heavily for the cabinet - the largest ever - with more than 40 ministers.

A government memo leaked to the local media directs that Ida Odinga and Pauline Musyoka, wives of the prime minister and vice-president respectively, will be rewarded for their roles as hostesses.

The pay is also supposed to recognise their role for upholding national family values.

'Over-burdened'

But Eugene Wamalwa, an MP and brother for former Vice-President Micheal Kijana Wamalwa, says the tax-payer is already over-burdened and the allowances are uncalled for.

"The prime minister and vice-president attract one of the highest salaries in the world and that will be sufficient for couples," Mr Wamalwa said.

And former head of the Kenyan chapter of Transparency International Gladwell Otieno said the move is a confirmation that Kenyan politicians are just a greedy caste, looking after themselves at the expense of poor Kenyans recovering from the effects of post-election violence.

The two women will join First Lady Lucy Kibaki, whose allowances increased last year to nearly $8,000 a month.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to share power in February after negotiations led by former UN head Kofi Annan to end weeks of violent clashes.

Some 1,500 people died and 600,000 left homeless around the country after last December's disputed elections.



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