March 28, 2012 (JUBA) – The administration of the University of Juba has closed the higher learning institution as inter-communal violence spread from the campus to surrounding areas on Wednesday.
- Juba University Entrance (Photo: Juba University Website)
Violence erupted on Tuesday between students from Greater Equatoria region and those from the Dinka community after an argument between members of the two groups during a football match inside the university campus.
The violence, which saw the use of knives and stones, resulted in several students from both sides being injured, some seriously.
The clashes were brought to a temporary halt on Tuesday evening when the police intervened. However, on Wednesday morning the clashes resumed between the two groups, forcing the Equatorian students to vacate the campus as the violence spilled into the areas surrounding the campus.
More students were injured in the second day of clashes amidst police attempts to disperse the rival groups by firing live bullets in the air.
Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that the rival group of the students who remained in the campus resorted to looting of properties belonging to the other group that was forced to vacate.
Professor Lino Gwaki, the Juba Univerity Dean of Students, said the violence started between students from the Dinka ethnic group and Eastern Equatoria state, which he said later on involved students from the three states of Greater Equatoria region.
He accused the military police of beating up the students seriously, wounding many of them.
He said the Chairman of the Students Union, Ajang Ajang Lino, who is a Dinka instead of leaving the issues to the University administration to handle called on the military police to intervene rather than the regular Central Equatoria state police to contain the situation.
The Dean of Students told the UN Miraya FM radio on Wednesday that the deployed military police were all suspected to hail from the Dinka community as they were speaking Dinka language during their operation against the students in the university campus.
He said several students have been admitted in the hospital from the injuries incurred.
The Chairman of the Students Union, Ajang Ajang, accused the top administration of the university of encouraging inter-tribal conflicts. He appealed to the government to remove the Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba, Professor Aggrey Abate and Professor Wani Sule, Principal of the University, accusing them of fueling the tribal conflicts.
On Tuesday the Vice Chancellor convened an emergency meeting after which he announced, through administrative order number 17/2012, that the university would be closed “until further notice.”
Abate also ordered all the students to vacate the university campus and hostels where they were accommodated with immediate effect.
He called on the administrative staff of the university who fled the fighting to report themselves back to the university campus.
“It is incumbent up on me as head of the institution to take such measures so as to stop any form of disorder in the campus”, Abate said in a statement fastened onto the door of the university campus.
He explained that the "suspension of lectures for three days" would enable the university administration to investigate and address the root cause of the conflict through its formal structures of decision-making. He appealed to the government to deploy police in the campus to protect university property and prevent further confrontations.
SPECIAL POLICE UNIT DEPLOYED
The Central Police Command has formed special police patrol teams to bring maintain law and order at the university, a senior government official told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
“It is has been contained. Special police patrol teams have been deployed there”, Deputy Interior Minister, General Salva Mathok Gengdit told reporters on Wednesday on the sidelines of an ongoing four day convention of the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
General Gengdit also said that the clashes had broken out over football match but said “a committee has been formed to investigate the actual cause”; he said.
He called on leaders of various political parties not to exploit the conflict.
The Interior Ministry Deputy asked politicians to advise students to conduct themselves with respect and show sense of responsibility in order to avoid confusion and disorder. Gengdit warned that the police would arrest and put on trial anybody or group of persons whose conduct threatens peace.
“We will not tolerate attempt to create social disorder and confusion”, he said.
Sudan Tribune on Wednesday witnessed students using sticks and stones to hit one another, resulting into some sustaining injuries. Victims are reported to have been taken to Juba Teaching Hospital for medical care.