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Burkina shuts universities after student protests

By on March 15, 2011

The government closed all universities on Monday until further notice in response to protests triggered by the death of a student who had been detained in police custody.

Six people have died and public buildings torched following the death last month of the student in the town of Koudougou, west of the capital Ouagadougou.

Authorities attribute the death to meningitis but protesters allege it was the result of injuries sustained while being held in the local police station in December.

“Academic and pedagogical activities have been largely blocked as a result of the strikes and other demonstrations carried out by the national association of students,” the government said in a news release justifying the move.

A landlocked country of 15 million people in West Africa, cotton producer Burkina Faso has avoided the instability that has plagued its neighbours and has in recent years benefited from high commodities prices.

But while the capital Ouagadougou has established itself as a venue for international conferences, the country remains poor, stuck at 161st place out of 169 countries on the U.N.’s Human Development Index, a composite measure of life quality.

Blaise Compaore was sworn in for a new term as president in December, extending his 23-year rule. Compaore, who seized power in a 1987 coup, won re-election with a landslide 80.15 percent, a result upheld despite complaints of irregularities.


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