SENEGAL: Students on the rampage - again

In the latest of a number of violent demonstrations students at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar went on the rampage this month, setting fire and causing other damage to university offices, and attacking the rector and a faculty dean with poison gas, said newspaper reports.

The students, most of them from the faculty of law, were protesting because they had not received their grants, and the students' associations responsible for paying them had come to the end of their mandate and their renewal had been postponed.

About 20 students attacked the rector's offices, starting a fire, breaking windows and daubing walls and doors with paint, reported Le Soleil of Dakar. When the rector, Professor Abdou Salam Sall, refused to talk to them immediately they invaded his office and sprayed poison gas over him, the dean of the law faculty Professor Diaw Diouf and other staff.

Following the riots Sall said the protesters had told him that as long as they were not in charge of the [grant-paying] associations, no-one was going to work in the rector's offices. The perpetrators had been identified, he said.

As well as the students facing the university's disciplinary procedures, both Sall and Diouf said they would take legal action against them, said Sud Quotidien of Dakar.

Sud Quotidien reported this was the second violent protest at UCAD within a week. A few days previously a visit by the Minister of Higher Education, Amadou Tidiane Ba, had to be abandoned when stone-throwing students prevented access to the university library for an inauguration ceremony, it said.

Wal Fadjri of Dakar said: "For some years one has had the impression that UCAD has entered a circle of hell." It recalled violence at the university last year, also over renewal of the students' association mandate; and a month ago a strong-armed protest by Muslim students, demonstrating in support of three of their number under arrest for international drug smuggling, which had prevented examinations taking place.