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Kenya Univ. Closes After Protests

February 6, 1998

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Authorities closed a university today after thousands of young Kenyans rioted to protest the death of a student in politically motivated violence that has claimed at least 100 lives since early last month.

George Eshiwani, vice chancellor of Kenyatta University, ordered 8,000 students off the campus just north of Nairobi because of ``anti-social acts of some students and threats to some students and members of staff.″

A source close to the university, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the threats were directed at members of President Daniel arap Moi’s tribal group, the Kalenjin.

The violence, which is largely confined to the area of Nakuru, 95 miles northwest of Nairobi, allegedly began when some Kalenjin attacked members of the Kikuyu tribe, Kenya’s largest. The Kalenjin apparently are trying to drive Kikuyus from their land because they voted against Moi in December elections.

At least 100 people have died, including a student from the area who was set upon by assailants armed with machetes when he returned home Wednesday. It was not known whether the attackers were Kalenjin or Kukuyu.

Several thousand people have fled their homes, seeking sanctuary in schools and churches.

On Thursday, thousands of students blocked a major highway with stones and logs to protest the killing of their colleague. The same day, Moi imposed a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in the Nakuru area.

He repeated his claim that the opposition was responsible for the violence, since some members had vowed to make Kenya ungovernable if they lost in December elections.

Moi, Kenya’s president for 20 years, won a fifth, five-year term and his Kenya African National Union retained its parliamentary majority. Kikuyus voted overwhelmingly for Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu who placed second to Moi.

Opposition politicians and clergymen have accused the government of complicity and failure to halt the violence.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the U.S. presidential envoy to Africa, is scheduled to tour the Nakuru area on Sunday.

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