23 May 2012

Kenya: Kitui KMTC Shut As Students Riot

Anti-riot police yesterday morning engaged the about 700 Kitui Medical Training College students in running battle as they forced them out of the institution before it was shut down indefinitely. The police officers in full riot gear stormed the students' hostels and evicted them on the second day their strike demanding the removal of principal Justus Kioko for alleged high-handedness.

On Tuesday, the students staged a peaceful demonstration in the streets of Kitui town over the matter before they were goaded back to the institution by the police. Yesterday, they boycotted breakfast and classes and staged a sit-in within the college's compound. They complained of poor food quality, inadequate lecture halls, lack of allowances while in the field, inflated fees and lack of assessment.

However, a confrontation ensued between the police and the students on Tuesday evening when they attempted to riot after a consultative meeting between DC Joshua Chepchieng and the students' representatives flopped. The police officers, who shot in the air to calm down the students, had held a night-long vigil at the campus until yesterday's confrontation.

Some students who spoke to the media on condition that they should not be named said they would not suspend their strike until Kioko is removed from the institution. They demanded to be addressed by the Nairobi-based director of medical training. As they held a peaceful demonstration in Kitui town streets, a combined force of Administration and regular police officers lead by the Kitui Officer Commanding Station Alexander Korrir on Tuesday accosted the demonstrating students near the bus park and calmed them down before goading them back to their centre.

During the Tuesday demonstration the police had initially charged at the peaceful students who were only armed with tree twigs and placards they changed their minds as the Kitui OCS Alexander Korrir talked the students. The irate students had stormed out of the lecture halls at 11am and took to the town's streets where they were joined by colleagues who are attached at the local District hospital.

But when they were intercepted by the police they were initially directed to the Kitui DC office where they were to be addressed by DC Chepchieng. Outside the DC's office, the students shouted down the Principal Kioko when he tried to address them prompting the police to order them to go back to the college from where the DC would address them. However Chepchieng instead held botched negotiations with the students' representatives.

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