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Togo universities shut after student protests

9 December 2011 | Togo
Police on guard in the Togolese capital Lome in November.  By Emile Kouton (AFP/File)
Police on guard in the Togolese capital Lome in November. By Emile Kouton (AFP/File)

LOME (AFP) - Authorities in Togo have temporarily shut down the country's two public universities after security forces fired teargas to break up student protests over a new bursary policy, they said late Thursday.

A government statement announced the "temporary" closure of the university of Lome and another one in Kara, some 420 kilometres (260 miles) north of the capital.

"Given the gravity of the (protest) acts on the two campuses, and in order to prevent the situation from degenerating, the government decided as of today on the temporary closure of the universities of Lome and Kara," said a government statement broadcast on national television Thursday night.

Students said security forces fired teargas to disperse them on Thursday when they gathered to protest against a new financial aid policy.

The government last month introduced a new policy awarding payouts only to brilliant students instead of all scholars as was in the past.

Authorities said the protests led to the destruction of public and private properties in Kara.

Before the introduction of the new regulation, all students received 20,000 FCFA (40 dollars, 30 euros) per term.

The two public universities enrol more than 60,000 students and there are several private institutions as well in the small West African country.

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