(Student) Election Violence in Kenya

(Student) Election Violence in Kenya

Maestro Ruto looking over the student election violence.
Nairobi students riot over … elections? And the man “solving” the situation is the one who caused the last election riots?

Wait, wait! The elections aren’t until the end of 2012, right? And the national referendum for a constitution isn’t for a few more months, right? What elections are we talking about?

The election for SONU, that’s Nairobi University’s student union.


It started Friday when students claimed the results announced for the elections of their student union were rigged by political hotshots.

iPhone fotos showed pretty rough characters, not exactly your liberal arts sophomore, entering student election booths with giant pangas (machetes) and replacing one election box with another that sort of looked similar.

Sunday students really got themselves fired up and on Monday they took to the crowded streets of Nairobi. One car was set ablaze in the city center. The university grounds were trashed pretty badly. Oil tankers were hijacked and stopped in the middle of Nairobi roundabouts virtually stopping traffic in and out of the city.

Guests at the Norfolk Hotel opposite the university had slightly longer drives as taxis went the long way round River Road to avoid the university.

It’s virtually impossible to verify the students’ claims that their student union election was rigged by political bosses in the country, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty much on their side.

It’s definitely been true in the past. Becoming a student union officer at the country’s most prestigious university was a virtual path into national politics. The opposing national parties, in fact, supported slates of candidates until that was banned just a few years ago.

But here’s the clue that it may definitely be true.

William Ruto is one of the most evil men in Kenya. Until recently he was the Agricultural Minister, a pretty high profile position in a government with nearly 70 ministries but only a few – like agriculture – that sit with the President and Prime Minister.

But it is widely known that Ruto is one of the “list of 20″ submitted the World Court in The Hague as a prime suspect for having instigated the horrible ethnic violence which followed the last election. As that formal investigation proceeded, Ruto was dumped down a few stairs from Agriculture to Education.

It’s not a big drop, but a pointed one. Ruto commands a huge following in rural Kenya where he overlords other thugs and mafia, and his clout is just too powerful.

Not until he’s officially named by The Hague will Kenya’s leaders dare dump him.

So now, as Minister of Education, he has told the Nairobi faculty to undo their suspension of the student union.

The faculty had suspended the student union and closed the university. On the first action presumably because the faculty knows the elections were rigged (though none will say so), and on the section action, because the kids were trashing the campus.

That seems reasonable to me, a former student rioter myself. And besides, it’s what the students want! They were rioting against the outcome of the elections of their union.

Ruto’s insertion in this process is by association a pointer to the fact that the student elections were rigged, and probably, by him.

Poor Ruto. As he loses support among matriculated Kenyan politicians, he’s forced to succor among the kids. Good for Kenya. But temporarily not so good for Nairobi University.

Good luck, kids! You will overcome!