Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sudan's Main University Re-opens Amid Heightened Tensions

Sudan’s top university re-opens amid heightened tension

March 18, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The University of Khartoum re-opened its doors on Sunday after being closed for two months following clashes between police and students.

Sudan’s most prestigious university was suspended in December after its students staged a series of protests against the university’s administration and the police whose members raided the main campus twice and used violence to stamp out demonstrations held in solidarity with Al-Manasir, a community displaced by the construction of a government dam upcountry.

Later in February, the police raided the university’s dorms and arrested over 300 students in anticipation of a planned protest.

The returning students were surprised to see that security has been beefed up in and around the campus. More guards were placed at the gates and surveillance cameras were installed.

According to the second vice-president, Al-Haj Adam Youssef, the new measures adopted by the university’s administration are “designed to safeguard the course of study after the appearance of the security breakdowns that led to the suspension of the university”, as reported by the Sudanese Media Center, a government-backed website.

Youssef attributed the events at Khartoum University to what he described as the infiltration of the students rank-and-file by people seeking political agendas. He further warned that any future protest “using violence or arms will be met with a decisive response.”

Meanwhile, the committee of Khartoum University Students on Sunday issued a statement reiterating demands that the university must sack its director and compensate the students affected by the violent events. The committee also insisted that the police must make a public apology for raiding the camp.

In a related development, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has accused opposition parties, namely the Popular Congress Party of Hassan Al-Turabi and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), of plotting to mobilize their student members in three of the country’s universities to take to the streets in protest.

In a press conference held in Khartoum on Sunday, the political secretary of the NCP’s student sector, Ismail Ali Yaqub, warned opposition parties against taking to the street or inciting Khartoum University’s students protest.

He further sought to discredit the committee of Khartoum University Students, describing it as “suspicious” and saying it is made up of communists and students affiliated to Darfur rebel groups.

Yaqub accused the committee of seeking to execute agendas different from the ones sought by Khartoum University’s students. He went to threaten that their student members are ready to use force in response to opposition students.


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