IRAQ: Government suspends university after protests

Iraq's prime minister suspended classes and banned political activities at one of Baghdad's top universities following student protests on campus, a government spokesman said last week, writes Sameer N Yacoub for Associated Press. Iraq also banned the student union at Mustansiriyah University, raising questions over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's commitment to free speech.

The government maintains the university was falling under the sway of religious Shiite groups. Studies at the university were suspended for one week, spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement posted on a government website. Al-Dabbagh said the action was taken because of problems caused by "undisciplined individuals". The statement did not provide any further details.

The university has been at the centre of a power struggle between al-Maliki and religious Shiite parties, which have had administrative control of the university since the 2003 US-led invasion. Earlier last week, a small number students demanded a role in governing the university, a protest that led al-Maliki to temporarily close the campus.
Full report on the Associated Press site