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Rioting University of Nairobi students sent home

By | May 18th 2010 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Sam Otieno

University of Nairobi has been closed indefinitely after a four-day student protests.

The decision to shut down the institution was made on Tuesday afternoon by the university senate after heightened tension in the university following controversial student union elections.

University of Nairobi students after they were ordered to leave the campus on Tuesday. Picture: Govedi Asutsa/Standard

Speaking to the Standard on telephone, university Vice Chancellor Prof George Magoha confirmed that the institution had been closed indefinitely.

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And in a circular that he issued later, Prof Magoha said the closure affects all modules including regular and parallel students.

However, postgraduate students were not affected by the closure, as some were writing examinations.

"The university has been closed indefinitely and all students are required to vacate the institution by 3pm," read a circular to all students signed by Prof Magoha.

On Saturday, Prof Magoha nullified the students’ election process and suspended the Students Organisation of Nairobi University (Sonu) until April 30, next year.

But the move angered students who poured into the streets stoning motorists and destroying public and private property.

While disbanding the union, Magoha cited malpractices, unlawful violent and criminal activities that led to the disruption of the election process.

According to Magoha, a 20-member caretaker committee comprising representatives from the duly elected officials of the campus based professional organizations from the eight campuses was to take over the running of Sonu.

But Higher Education Minister William Ruto reversed the decision to suspend Sonu and ordered the University Senate to table a report on the chaos in his office by Tuesday.

He appealed to university administrations to be democratic when dealing with students. Ruto asked the senate to initiate necessary mechanisms for fresh elections to continue the interface between the student fraternity and the university.

For the last four days, rioting students engaged police in running battles causing a traffic snarl up.

On Monday, anti-riot police kept vigil outside the campus while the university administration engaged student leaders in talks. The students were also enraged by the nullification of their leaders’ elections after goons raided the counting and tallying hall and disrupted business on Friday night. The university library was broken into and books stolen in the chaos, which Magoha blamed on external political influence.

Three of the student leaders arrested on Sunday were on Tuesday charged with incitement to violence at a Nairobi court.

university of Nairobi Sonu vice chancellor Prof George Magoha police riots
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