March 4, 2012 / 3:59 PM / in 6 years

Police disperse student protest in Sudan

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese police used batons to disperse more than 100 students protesting in the centre of Khartoum against the closure of their campuses following the independence of South Sudan, witnesses said.

South Sudan became independent in July under a 2005 peace agreement with Sudan to end decades of civil war. Both sides have failed to sort out a long list of issues such as sharing oil or marking the poorly defined joint border.

Students who used to attend southern universities with campuses in Sudan gathered in front of the presidential palace. They called on Sudan and South Sudan to start talks to allow them to get diplomas from their old universities.

“The fate of students must come before oil,” one banner said.

The government has opened a new campus in Khartoum for northern students who went to southern universities but protesters said that was not good enough.

“We cannot accept a diploma from a university that was founded only in 2011,” said one engineering student, asking not to be named. “We want to graduate from our old universities.”

Police used batons to disperse the protest and arrested several students, witnesses said.

Protests are rare in tightly controlled Sudan, but a severe economic crisis with high food inflation has triggered small rallies in Khartoum and other university cities.

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