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Tension as students refuse to leave Barikadimy campus

Madagascar’s Prime Minister Kolo Roger has confirmed his determination to evict students living without permission on the Barikadimy campus of Toamasina University and who are refusing to leave in spite of police on the campus and a court order against them.

Midi-Madagasikara of Antananarivo reported that 4,000 students were living on the campus, of whom 2,400 were not legitimately there and should leave.

But they were refusing to go and even threatening to harden their position, said the paper.

The university’s presidency had previously given an order that students living on campus should leave by 5 September to allow renovations to be carried out, reported La Vérité. But angry students refused to leave unless they were paid expenses so they could return home.

The situation was already tense because police had previously been called to the campus following unrelated disturbances.

The university authorities said the evacuation would last for as long as the renovations were taking place – and until the start of the new university year, a date that was uncertain.

The end of the 2012-13 academic year had only taken place in May-June 2014, and the 2013-14 year was due to begin on 11 September, reported La Vérité. Some departments at the university had already opened their courses in August; but on 25 August the university’s governing board decided to alter the academic calendar and skip a year so, like other Madagascan universities, it would start afresh with the 2014-15 year.

Students declared a strike on 1 September, determined to stay on the campus. They appealed to the administrative court for a stay of execution of the expulsion order, and the evacuation was called off until 6 September.

After that date Sobika reported that the university authorities issued a request to students to leave the premises, and that the forces of order had been present for several days to ensure the evacuation of those who refused to leave.

The university President Velo Jerome visited the campus, accompanied by the chief of the gendarmerie of Toamasina and a representative of the justice ministry, reported Sobika.

Jerome addressed the students, reiterating the rooms must be vacated. The police would remain to control any demonstrations the students tried to organise.

While deadlock continued, Prime Minister Kolo Roger made known his support for the evacuation of the students so the renovation could take place.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.

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