“The university grows more and more tense every day”
Mamadou Koné is a student at the University of Félix-Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan. He spoke about a demonstration organised on campus last February that was violently put down by the “University police” or PU. The PU was created after the post-electoral crisis and students say that PU officers are all too ready to deliver blows with their truncheons.
Since it was reopened in September 2012, the university grows more and more tense every day. The authorities didn’t keep their promises: students, who come from all over the country, still have just as much trouble finding housing because the university residences weren’t reopened. Moreover, there is this university police force (PU), which was put in place by Ouattara’s government and which tends to abuse its rights. The police force is mostly made up of members of the FRCI [the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast –
this group has been part of the national army since 2011].
Authorities justify the creation of this “police” because Ivorian universities have long had trouble with violence perpetrated by the student unions who rule the campus. One, known as the Fesci, was the most powerful student union before the 2010-11 crisis and was widely considered as being a militia serving former president Laurent Gbagbo.
Following the incidents last February, the PU were suspended at Houphouët-Boigny University, but they are even more active elsewhere, for example at Nangui-Abrogoua University [Abidjan’s other big university].
More than 3,000 people were killed and more than a million were displaced in the post-election crisis in 2010-11, according to the United Nations.
Deposed president Laurent Gbagbo was extradited to the International Criminal Court in November 2011, becoming the first head of state to be taken into the court's custody.