Here's your bus fare, we're shutting down

March 21, 2003

Armed police have raided the University of Zambia, evicting thousands of students and closing the institution indefinitely.

The police arrived at 3am, told students to pack and gave them bus fares so they could return to their homes across the country.

The eviction occurred five weeks into a lecturers' strike that began on February 3. Only 1,000 students whose schools did not strike remain.

Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa said the university had been shut to prevent anarchy. Three days before, students, frustrated after talks between union and management broke down, lit fires and erected placards.

But in general they have been quiet, fearing closure.

New vice-chancellor Robert Serpell, who was abroad when the university closed, said: "We don't operate in total autonomy, and there is no question of myself revoking a decision that was taken by the cabinet while I was away.

"The students have rightfully pointed out that there wasn't any public disorder on the campus, but the security people have their own criteria."

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