SENEGAL: Police condemned for invading campus

The University Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis has condemned an after-midnight incursion into its campus by the national gendarmerie earlier this month which it says flagrantly violated the university's constitutional freedom. The intervention by the police followed student unrest due to unpaid grants. The university authorities are also disciplining student miscreants.

Wal Fadjri of Dakar reported that students demanding three months of grant payments had blocked both directions of the main road to and from Mauritania to draw national attention to their grievances. Gendarmes arrived to clear the way and battle commenced with students throwing stones at the police who responded with teargas. The students retreated to their campus.

When night fell, some students decided to return to block the road but were prevented by gendarmes on guard at the university gates. Fighting broke out and the police pursued the students back to their living quarters.

Some were arrested, others wounded, and, according to student delegates, a female student was beaten and valuable possessions, including mobile telephones, were taken, said Wal Fadjri. After the police left, damage included smashed doors.

The university authorities called an extraordinary meeting and passed a resolution condemning the violation of the university's freedom by the police.

Le Soleil of Dakar said the meeting considered the police incursion constituted "flagrant violations of the provisions of Order 94-79 of 7 November 1979 regarding university exemptions and freedoms which form a fundamental bastion of academic legislation, the responsibility for which falls equally on members of the university community and outside parties".

Both papers also reported that the meeting ruled the students at fault should be brought before the university's disciplinary commission on 19 August.