KAMPALA,, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 02nd Nov, 2016 ) - A day after Uganda's president ordered the closure of one of Africa's oldest universities, 23-year old Gabriel Deng was hurriedly stuffing his belongings into rucksacks in a rundown student hostel. Pop music blared down the corridor from a nearby room as other students at Makarere -- Uganda's top university and one of the oldest and best in Africa -- scurried about on Wednesday as riot police stood on guard outside.
"Now that President Museveni has ordered the university closed, we have to leave but I don't have anywhere to go," said Deng, a first-year veterinary student. On Tuesday, Uganda's long-time ruler President Yoweri Museveni ordered the indefinite closure of Makarere after days of student protests culminated in violent clashes with police. "Yesterday the police came and fired teargas into the hostel," Deng said. "We can't stay here but I'm a refugee from South Sudan so if I can't find a friend to stay with in Kampala, I might have to return the refugee camp.
" Unlike in South Africa where students protesting over the high cost of fees have brought universities to a standstill and chaos to their campuses, the Ugandan protests are in response to a fortnight of strike action by academic staff demanding better pay and conditions. As a result there has been no teaching, angering students eager to learn. Dr Muhammad Kiggundu, chairman of the staff association, said lecturers had not been paid a university-agreed "incentive payment" after years without a pay rise. "The incentives are a top-up which give us enough to live on but it hasn't been paid for nine months. Members of our association feel that we are being taken for a ride," he said.