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Strike: 10 Muteesa University Students Arrested

At least 10 students of Muteesa I Royal University are in police custody hours after participating in a violent strike that culminated in the closure of the institution.
Some of the students of Muteesa 1 Royal University on a police pickup after the strike.

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At least 10 students of Muteesa I Royal University are in police custody hours after participating in a violent strike that culminated in the closure of the institution.

Those arrested include guild president Jesse Lumu, while particulars of the other students had not been established at the time of filing this report.

This morning dozens of angry students went on rampage and stormed a university council meeting. They blocked officials from leaving the meeting room and threatened to lynch them for what they called failure to sack Prof. Arthur Sserwanga, the university vice chancellor.

The meeting was being chaired by Dr Frank Sebbowa, the University Council chairman, at the university main campus located at Kirumba in Masaka Municipality. It was abandoned when students, armed with placards and sticks, raided the venue demanding that the vice chancellor be relieved of his duties.

They accuse Prof Sserwanga of incompetence and failure to effectively manage the Masaka-based university campus. Led by Guild President Jesse Lumu, the students protested over poor sanitation at the campus, lack of text books, dilapidated structures and failure to pay lecturers' salaries.

The violence escalated when students decided to eat the special meal provided to the members of the University council by Hotel Brovad. The students pounced on the food saying the university council members should not eat good food when they are starving the lecturers by not paying them.

Police moved in and arrested at least ten students who were still eating.

Robert Walugembe, the South Buganda Region deputy police commander ordered for the closure of the university temporarily. He says they resolved to close it to protect university officials and property.

Walugembe says some of the arrested students are believed to have masterminded the strike, adding that they will help police with investigations.

Luganda bite

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Dr. Frank Ssebowa says the council will reconvene and discuss the issues raised by the students. He says that although the students disrupted their meeting, council was indeed discussing their grievances.

Prof. Sserwanga refused to speak to Uganda Radio Network when contacted. He said he would give a statement another time.

At the time of the strike, Justice Julia Sebutinde, the University Chancellor was also attending the meeting. She and Prof. Arthur Sserwanga were among the officials escorted by police out of the campus. Sebutinde is a Ugandan Justice currently working with the International Court of Justice.

In October 2015, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi appointed Justice Sebutinde as Chancellor of Muteesa I Royal University, a position to which she was officially installed in June this year. Until Sebutinde took over, Kabaka Mutebi himself was the Chancellor.

The university is owned by Buganda Kingdom and named after Kabaka Muteesa I Mukaabya Walugembe Kayiira, who reigned between 1856 and 1884. It was established in 2007 when ownership of Uganda Technical College, Masaka was transferred from the government of Uganda to Buganda Kingdom.