Senegal’s President Yields to Student Protestor’s Demands

After two weeks of protesting, President of Senegal, Macky Sall yields to the demands of the varsity students. He approved an increase in scholarships and a reduction of the price of meals at public universities.

One student, 25-year-old, Mamoudou Fallou Sène, was shot and killed during a violent encounter with the gendarmerie on May 15th at Gaston Berger University in Saint Louis. Twenty people were wounded as well, including 18 gendarmes. Tear gas was also used in other student protests across the country, one at University Cheikh Anta Diop in the capital, Dakar, and in the southern city of Ziguinchor.

President Sall offered his condolences over Twitter. “I offer my condolences to the family of the deceased UGB student Mohamed Fallou Sene,” he said. “I have instructed the government to shed light and find those responsible.”

Initially, the protests had been about a grants problem but after Sène’s death, the protests escalated across the country. Having not received their payments, the students were demanding free meals at the university restaurants. Student demonstrations are common in Senegal but rarely result in death.

Sall is now setting the dates for grant payments as no later than the 5th of each month and reduced the price of the university meal vouchers. However, student leader at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Ahamdou Bamba, says that it is not enough to point out these changes and there are other important measures that are being taken by heads of state that have been ignored.

Thirty bursars that have been purchased and made available to universities of Senegal, including 6 to Cheikh Anta Diop University. There is also rehabilitation of medical services and well as the construction of those in universities that did not previously have any. Pharmacies and medical centers have been strengthened and the number of beds has been increased for housing.

The grant the students did not receive was supposed to be 60 000 francs. Now it has been raised to 100 000. “We can say that most of our demands from a social point of view have been taken into account. There are few hiccups of course, but today the reason we are out in streets was to give justice,” Bamba told Africanews.

The dismissal of ministers, mainly the ministers of higher education, armed forces, interior, and finance, was also one of the main causes that pushed people into the streets. This demand, however, has not been met yet.

“It’s not just the question of asking for the dismissal of ministers, but we are fundamentally asking that our social education conditions be established so that our students can flourish within the very framework of studies and have good results.”

Most of the lecture halls have been reopened at the universities across Senegal. The one, however, is at the University of Gaston Berger, which happens to be the one where second-year-student, Sène, was killed. However, Bamba urges us to be reminded that it is a small school with only 15000 students, and the ones have been reopened were significantly bigger.

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