Student rivalry leads to death and arson at university

Rivalry between student union factions has led to unrest and violence at University Félix Houphouët-Boigny de Cocody in Abidjan, capital of Côte d’Ivoire, with incidents including the death of a student and a suspicious fire.

According to Radio France International, or RFI, universities had long been places of political protest, and Félix Houphouët-Boigny was no exception.

Events there had become particularly turbulent after some student unionists were excluded.

Tension had been rising at the university for several weeks, and in mid-November Wilfried Konin, a masters student in economics, was killed during an altercation with students from a rival union.

Notrevoie reported that Konin and his friend Laurent Patrick Asseu, a masters student in business studies, were attacked on the campus by a group of ‘over-excited’ young men armed with clubs, metal bars and machetes.

The previous day there had been confrontation between activists from student unions FESCI and AGEECI, against which the police had intervened with teargas. Then during a debate on student unionisation the two victims had expressed a different opinion from others who had lain in wait and beaten them up. Konin died the next day in hospital.

Assi Fulgence Assi, secretary general of FESCI, accused members of AGEECI of causing the violence and said FESCI would be lodging a complaint. But AGEECI denied any responsibility, reported Notrevoie.

The fire broke out during the night of 4-5 December in the university’s administration offices, after vehicles had been vandalised the day before during a student demonstration. Police were called at 4am, but all the computer equipment and the offices were destroyed, reported Fratmat of Abidjan.

A university source told Fratmat they believed the fire was started deliberately. “The day before there were gunshots and cars were wrecked that belonged to members of the university council after they decided to exclude certain student unionists who had committed recent violence, and caused… [Konin’s] death,” said the source.

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