16 April 2018

Kenya: University of Nairobi Students Riot Over Polls

Photo: Daily Nation
The University of Nairobi.

Nairobi — Police on Sunday afternoon battled the University of Nairobi (UoN) students who were protesting the swearing-in of student leader Manyara Muchui.

The students demonstrated on the campus, burning tyres, destroying facilities and stoning cars along Waiyaki Way, before police officers dispersed them.

They claimed that the administration, led by Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbithi, had imposed the University of Nairobi Students Association (UNSA) leaders on them.

"We elected delegates on Friday, April 13, and the election for the position of the chairman was to be held on Thursday, April 19, but we woke up [Sunday] shocked to learn of the early morning swearing-in of Anthony Manyara as the chairman of UNSA," one of the aspirants for the chairmanship, Mr Job Omondi Otieno (Jahome), said.

Other candidates

Ms Rebecca Kemunto was also sworn in as the vice-chairperson.

Mr Otieno said the university management had been unfair to the other candidates, reiterating that the students would not settle for leaders they had not elected.

Mr Otieno was one of the four aspirants who were locked out of the race by the administration over disciplinary and academic issues.

The other aspirants included Mr Felix Apiyo, Mr Abdi Birkan and Ms Daphine Githuku.

Mr Manyara said he was duly sworn-in as there was no other candidate in the race for chairmanship, but other students said there were five contenders for the position, questioning why the management rushed to swear him in early Sunday morning yet the elections were still pending.

Were disqualified

"This is a sham, they swore him in secretly because they knew that the students would protest. UNSA is a sham. We want Sonu back," Mr Otieno said.

The University of Nairobi Students Association, UNSA (formerly Sonu) constitution stipulates that the chairman should be elected by the delegates chosen by the students.

The swearing in of Mr Manyara attracted various reactions from the students on their Facebook page, New Comrades Forum.

But the University Independent Commission, in a statement, said the election was conducted on Friday and the winners sworn in on Saturday, within 24 hours after the exercise.

"Those who were protesting the election were disqualified because they did not meet the requirements such as having pending supplementary papers, disciplinary cases and providing a list of 700 supporters," said Mr Collins Odote, an electoral commissioner.

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