Ultimatum for striking students in Ethiopian capital

Ultimatum for striking students in Ethiopian capital

Agence France-Presse 04/17/2001


ADDIS ABABA, April 17 (AFP) - Striking students at Addis Ababa University will face expulsion if they fail to return to classes by noon on Wednesday, the education ministry warned.


The students, who have been boycotting classes since April 10 over a variety of grievances, will be deemed to have "voluntarily interrupted their courses" if they do not show up on Wednesday, official press reports said Tuesday.


They would then forfeit the right of readmission, according to the ministry. "Legal measures will be taken against those students who try to disrupt classes," the ministry warned.


A meeting on Monday between thousands of students and Education Minister Genet Zewde ended in deadlock with no breakthrough made on students' demands that security forces leave the campus immediately and that authorities acknowledge that police used excessive force in storming the campus on April 11, when some 45 students were injured in the ensuing clashes.


 The minister was unable to give a date for the departure of the security forces.


 An agreement was reached late last week between the minister, university authorities and students over the formation of a student council, the lifting of the ban on a student journal and the respect of the students' right to assembly and free speech.


Also last week, the minister described the police action on the campus as "illegal and unauthorized."