Thursday, July 22, 2010

PM Kamla announces public inquiry into 1990 failed coup

Trinidad and Tobago is launching a public inquiry into the failed 1990 coup, which was led by the leader of the Jamaat al-Muslimeen, Yasin Abu Bakr.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced the probe Thursday at the government's weekly post cabinet media briefing.

On July 27 1990 Bakr and an armed group of his supporters stormed the state-owned television station and the Parliament and announced that his group had taken charge of the government "on behalf of the people".

Prime Minister Arthur N.R. Robinson, who was a hostage inside the Parliament along with most members of his cabinet, was shot in his leg after he ordered government troops to attack with "full force".

Winston Dookeran took charge of the government during the crisis and negotiated an end to the crisis.

Bakr and his men eventually surrendered after an orgy of looting and mayhem in which about 30 people died, including MP Leo Des Vignes. The plotters were charged with treason and convicted. However they appealed and were freed. That appeal was overturned but the government at the time did not order a retrial.

Read about the 1990 coup
Read TIME magazine's report on the attempted coup

Persad-Bissessar did not say exactly when the inquiry would start but she noted that it will be public and that anyone implicated in it would face the consequences.

Both Prime Ministers since the coup - Basdeo Panday and Patrick Manning - have refused calls for an inquiry. None of them was present at the time the Parliament was stormed.

When reporters asked Manning for a comment he called it "a family squabble". And Panday told journalists, "Wake me when it's over".

During the campaign for the May 24 general election Dookeran, who is leader of the Congress of the People (COP), pledged that a People's Partnership government would launch a probe.

Related story: Everything will be told: Bakr

Related story: Probe long overdue: Robinson

Persad-Bissessar's announcement Thursday came a day after a reported threat on her life from someone who warned that if the government proceeded with its plans to sell properties owned by Bakr the group would "finish" what it started in 1990. Police are investigating the report.

Commenting on the threat the prime minister said she will not allow it to change her commitment to law and justice or how she conducts her daily business.

She said her government will continue with its three-pronged attack on crime based on detection, conviction and rehabilitation. She acknowledged that it is an uphill task, noting that "we inherited a bullet train" when it comes to crime.

She promised to hire more police officers, noting that the force has 1,500 vacancies.

Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai