MOROCCO, BURKINO FASO: Student clashes with police

Seven students were sentenced this month to a year in prison and fined 1,500dh (US$203) following violent demonstrations at the halls of residence of Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh in May. Meanwhile, last week there were clashes at the University of Ouagadougou when police confronted students protesting about unsatisfactory conditions.

Libération of Casablanca reported the sentencing of the seven students who were charged with setting a university residential building on fire, damaging public buildings, knife attacks on police, possession of knives and destruction of public property during demonstrations on 14 May. After calm was restored several injuries were reported on both sides, administrative buildings had been burnt and cafés were among public buildings reported destroyed.

Courses had been suspended at the university's humanities and law faculties since 26 April, when a student demonstration in support of colleagues suffering from food poisoning turned violent when confronted by police. During the following days student protests and grievances escalated, leading to some arrests.

The protesters called for dismissal of the dean of the law faculty, whom they blamed for their grievances. Among their demands were increased grants, free meals and transport for some students, and abolition of pass marks and compulsory attendance of lectures.

Other violent confrontations between students and police took place last week, this time in Burkino Faso. Sidwaya of Ouagadougou reported that demonstrating students were overwhelmed by police reinforced by gendarmes and CRS [riot police], who fired teargas as well as making arrests.

The students were protesting against the conditions under which they had to study - including insufficient space and materials for practical work, abolition of the module system and budget cuts leading to lack of teachers in some courses.