KNUST crisis: Stakeholders in crunch meeting

BY: Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education

A high-powered government delegation yesterday met with the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) and stakeholders of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to devise ways of resolving the issues that led to the violent demonstration by the students last Monday.

The successful resolution of the sticky issues by the meeting could pave the way for the reopening of the university.

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The high-powered government delegation, led by the Minister of Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, included the Minister of National Security, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, and the Minister of Information designate, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.

The meeting, held behind closed doors, was also attended by members of the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) and other stakeholders of the university, including representatives of the University Council, the management of the university, led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri Danso, and the Students Representative Council (SRC).


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Some students boarding buses to depart the campus.

Last Monday, KNUST was closed down indefinitely following a violent demonstration by the students on the campus in Kumasi.

The Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC), which took the decision at an emergency meeting with the university authorities, also imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the university campus with immediate effect.

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The students of KNUST, who went on a peaceful demonstration against the ‘tyrannical’ style of the university administration, turned violent, leading to the massive destruction of public and individual properties.

The demonstration was also intended to express grave concern over the use of force by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri Danso, to cow them into submission.

Before the demonstration, 11 students of the University Hall (Katanga), who had participated in the usual entertainment programme (otherwise called moral session) of the hall last Friday, were allegedly brutalised and arrested by the university’s internal security men and handed over to the KNUST Police Station, where they were detained.

Moral sessions are processions of students usually on campus. They are normally observed amid singing and dancing, and are very common with the all-male halls of residence.

Brief

Briefing the press after the meeting, the University Relations Officer (URO) of KNUST, Mr Kwame Yeboah Jnr, said the meeting centred on what happened on the university campus, its antecedent and how quickly to resolve the issues for the university to reopen.

He said the University Council would have to meet on the issue and “see how quickly things would be done” for the reopening of the university to happen in the shortest time possible.

No date

However, he said no date had been fixed for the students to return to campus and that most of the issues that led to the demonstration would have to be resolved first.

According to him, some people were of the view that the conversion of the halls into mixed halls was the issue and that there was much destruction and “all these things would have to be fixed first”.

Commenting on the purported resignation of the vice-chancellor, he said the public should disregard the information, as it was the figment of somebody’s imagination.

According to him, the VC was selected through a process and as such he had no intention to resign.

Bantamahene

Earlier, the Bantamahene, Baffour Owusu Amankwatia VI, on behalf of the Asantehene, paid a visit to the university to assess the extent of damage caused to public and individual properties, and described the incident as very unfortunate.

He said there had been demonstrations in the university, but nothing of the sort had ever happened and called on the parties to exercise restraint as the traditional leaders were determined to work in concert with the government, the university and students to resolve the impasse.

Campus

Earlier in the day, the university was turned into a transportation terminal as almost all the big transportation companies such as VIP and Metro Mass Transport (MMT) went to the campus to convey some of the students to their destinations.

Some of the students were seen carrying their luggage on their heads, walking towards the main station in search for means of transport.

At the time the Daily Graphic visited the university, the campus was gradually becoming a ghost community.

As of 4 p.m. when the news team was leaving campus, some foreign students, who were allowed to remain on campus, were seen playing football behind their halls of residence as if it was business as usual.