Gabon’s Education Minister Michel Menga M’Essonne announced on Thursday, April 11, that classes across the country have been suspended in response to recent student protests. Demonstrations were held in cities across Gabon on Monday, April 8, to protest government plans to cut university grants. According to the government statement, classes were suspended to allow the situation to calm. Further associated protests are possible in the coming days and heightened security measures are expected around all demonstrations.
Thousands of students took to the streets in Libreville, Franceville, Lambaréné, Makokou, Moanda, Port-Gentil, and Oyem to protest the proposed government policies. A draft of the reforms was released in March, which would reduce the number of students eligible for government grants, place a maximum age for access to the funds at 19, and require applicants to score relatively high on school exams (at least 12 points out of a maximum of 20). Prime Minister Julien Nkogue Bekale has defended the changes, stating that the government is facing economic difficulties.
Individuals in Gabon are advised to monitor developments to the situation and avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution.
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