Kenya’s top university has been closed following unrest and allegations from students of police brutality. It is the latest sign of the deepening tensions over the re-run of the presidential election later this month.
The University of Nairobi was shuttered after days of unrest, following the arrest of a student leader who is also a member of parliament.
The lawmaker was arrested for allegedly insulting the president and also for assaulting a voter.
Last week’s protests prompted some police officers to enter the university compound, where they beat up students, frog marching others.
In an interview with Nation Television, the head of the police said the university administration invited the police to deal with the situation at the school.
The students planned a protest Tuesday against the police brutality and the school administration. But the university announced it was closed until further notice, citing what it called a deteriorating security situation.
Student leader Ronny Mamba disagreed with the stated reason for closure.
“As you can see here, no student is armed. We are armed with our brains. No student is carrying a gun. No students have clobbered another student. Therefore, there is no insecurity,” Mamba said.
Angel Mbuthia is the deputy chairperson of the students' union.
“Students right now are not happy with the situation. What we planned was to have a demonstration to ask for answers and to find out why our vice-chancellor ordered the GSU to get into university hostels and use excessive force on our students,” Mbuthia said, referring to the paramilitary wing in the Kenya’s National Police.
Mbuthia did acknowledge tensions over the re-run election between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his challenger Raila Odinga have spilled over into the university.
“The country is a bit unstable right now, and it has been reflected in our university because now politicians are running into the university to get a share of the votes they can get from there and influence everything they can, so that is what coming in and dividing students in such a magnified way,” Mbuthia said.
Kenya's electoral commission met with ruling Jubilee party officials and opposition leaders Tuesday to discuss preparations for the October 26 re-run.
U.S., British and European Union envoys have called for both sides to give support to the electoral body in preparations for the vote.
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