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Scores arrested as Meru Polytechnic students protest election results

By Phares Mutembei | July 19th 2021

The institution was closed indefinitely after students disputed election results. [Courtesy]

Meru National Polytechnic was closed indefinitely on Monday, July 19, after students rioted, citing student election irregularities.

The students engaged in running battles with the police dispatched to quell the riots, and a number of them were arrested.

In a memo from the Principal to all the institution’s trainees, the administration said the institution would remain closed for an indefinite period.

"This is to inform you that the institution has been closed down physically until further notice and all trainees have 30 minutes to vacate the school," read the memo.

Students took to the streets to protest the outcome of student elections, claiming they were stage-managed to favour a particular contesting group.

The police were forced to hurl teargas canisters to disperse the groups which poured into the Makutano area to protest the elections, which were held on Friday.

Student leaders claimed the polytechnic’s administration wanted a particular group of leaders to represent them, against the wish of the majority.

Some of them including Boniface Kirimi said they had wanted a free and fair election conducted both manually and electronically as was the norm, but the administration conducted it digitally, opening an avenue for manipulation.

“We have various issues we want to be articulated well, including the cost of food and insecurity in our areas of residence. We wanted students to be given a fair platform to pick leaders of their choice but they were manipulated,” said Kirimi.

He said students needed security outside the institution, just as it was inside.

They called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to be invited to conduct fresh, transparent elections.

“We do not want the school to be closed because we are preparing for examinations. All we want is a free and fair election to allow students to elect leaders of their choice,” Kirimi said.

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