, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – Three University of Nairobi students were on Monday charged with incitement to violence following the strike that caused damage to property on Friday night.
Kimathi Nabea, Bernard Omondi and Alfred Mukiri however denied the charge before Principal Magistrate Grace Macharia.
Mr Kimathi was also separately charged with possessing a sword. The three students were released on a Sh30,000 cash bail.
Students from the university rioted over the weekend following disputed elections of their students’ organisation last week. On Sunday, they set ablaze a saloon car on State House Road.
Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister William Ruto intervened in the ongoing dispute between the university administration and the students union and opposed the decision by the University Council to disband the students union.
Addressing the media, Mr Ruto said that he had directed the University Council to furnish him with the steps they had taken to address the problem occasioned by alleged irregularities in the University of Nairobi Students Association (SONU) polls.
“I have also advised the University Senate and Council that I do not think banning a students\’ union is an option. They should instead engage in constructive discussion with SONU so that we can get to an amicable solution on when an election can be carried out and I expect a result latest tomorrow (Tuesday),” he said.
The Higher Education Minister also called for calm and asked the students to practice democracy during their polls.
“If there are issues let us be civil, let us be democratic (and) sort them out in a manner that does not lead in the unnecessary loss of property;” he said and asked the student body at the UoN to be calm or not to allow agents who are beyond the university to influence the outcome.
The University Senate had on Saturday suspended SONU for one year.
According to the resolutions posted on the University`s website, the Senate attributed its decision to the actions of irate students who rioted and destroyed university property.
A statement by Vice Chancellor Prof George Magoha said the council had also resolved: “That a 20 member caretaker committee comprising representatives from the duly elected officials of the campus based professional organisations, from the eight campus colleges immediately takes over the running SONU activities and performs any other functions that the Senate may direct up to April 30, 2011.”
The standoff follows the union\’s elections which ended in disarray on Friday after claims of attempted rigging and political interference.
The irate students took to the streets to protest the move destroying university property and blamed the university administration for interfering with the elections.