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Students react to indefinite closure of Rongo University amid student unrest

Rongo University was plunged into chaos on Tuesday, March 26, leading to the indefinite closure of the institution. The decision to close the university came in response to the tumultuous scenes on campus following a hotly contested student election.

A memo signed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Michael Ntabo cited the ongoing unrest stemming from the student elections as the main reason for the closure. The memo, which was issued after deliberations by the University Senate, ordered all students to vacate the premises immediately.

The chaos erupted after the election results were announced, with rival factions going on a rampage, causing significant damage to school property.

Bonfires were reportedly lit on campus and windows were smashed in the main library during the riots. However, the university administration was able to quell the protests before they escalated, and there were no reports of injuries to students or staff.

Rongo University
Broken windows of the Rongo University’s library. PHOTO| POOL

Despite the closure, elections have already been held and the duly elected candidates have been announced.

Also read: Kenyatta University suspends classes after death of students, lecturer ion fatal accident

Victor Apicha was elected president, with Mercy Wangari as his deputy. Ochako Samuel takes on the role of secretary general while Reuben Makana is the sports coordinator.

James Irieri will oversee financial matters as treasurer and Gentrix Iminza will represent women’s affairs.

Reactions from students poured in following the news of the closure. Odongo A. Etyang stressed the importance of accepting the results of the election, saying, “In Kenya democracy is understood in a different way, democracy in Kenya is democracy only if whoever you supported wins, if he/she does not it is not democracy. Democracy is democracy whether your candidate wins or not. As long as whoever wins has won by majority votes. Sometimes acha tukubaliane tu na matokeo tuu.”

Others, such as Otieno Ageng’a Hsc, expressed cynicism about the situation and questioned the seriousness of the university’s management.

Dominic Ouma also expressed concern for fourth-year students, while Lavine Sheffy emphasised the importance of “cooperation over competition”.

However, feelings of disappointment and frustration were prevalent among students like Mwaura Bonface, who described the situation as “unfortunate”.