Saturday, March 15, 2014

IRO head: Pray for Robinson. Former president gravely ill

A.N.R. Robinson - gravely ill
Former President Arthur N.R. Robinson is gravely ill and the leader of the Inter Religious Organisation has asked citizens to pray for Robinson at special prayers on Sunday. 

"As President of the IRO, I kindly ask you to kindly keep our former President and Prime Minister Arthur N. R. Robinson in your prayers and worship," Harrypersad Maharaj said.

He added, "President Robinson has served this Nation and the world in general in so many ways and we shall be ever grateful that Trinidad and Tobago has produced such distinguished souls. May our prayers and Meditations give him strength to recover soon and courage to his family as well".

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar also visited Robinson on Friday.

Robinson, who is 88, served in two of the country's highest offices - as Prime Minister from 1986 to 1991 and as President from 1997 to 2003.

He began his political career as a member of the Federal Parliament in 1958 and in the 1961 election entered the national parliament as a member for the People's National Movement (PNM) for Tobago. He served as the country's finance minister and foreign minister before breaking with his party in 1970 and joining the popular Black Power protest movement.

Robinson later formed the Action Committee of Democratic Citizens (ACDC) and spearheaded a successful no vote campaign in the 1971 general election in which the PNM won all 36 seats in parliament but with only 28 per cent of the popular vote.

In 1976 he and his colleague, Dr Winston Murray, defeated the PNM Tobago candidates Basil Pitt and Wilbert Winchester in the first general election under the Republican Constitution and re-entered parliament as an opposition member.

Five years later he joined an alliance with the United Labour Front (ULF) led by Basdeo Panday and the TAPIA House Movement led by the late Lloyd Best. In 1986 he and his political allies formed the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) and created history when the NAR broke the PNM's 30-year reign, winning 33 of the 36 seats in Parliament.

Robinson also served as the first chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly from 1980 to 1986 after his party defeated the PNM in the first THA election.
NAR suffered a major setback due to political differences between Robinson and Panday. The former ULF leader left and formed the United National Congress (UNC), which became the official opposition. 

In 1990, the Robinson government was almost overthrown in an attempted coup led by Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr. Robinson was shot during the uprising, while he and members of parliament were being held hostage in the House of Representatives but refused to surrender to the insurgents. His famous instruction to the protective services was: "Attack with full force!"

Robinson's NAR was defeated by the PNM in the 1991 election but it was the new UNC under Panday that took over as the official opposition with Robinson retaining control of Tobago's two seats. 

The PNM led by Patrick Manning called an early election in 1995 that ended in a 17-17-2 two result with the NAR holding the balance of power with the two Tobago seats. Manning refused to consider a coalition but Robinson and Panday worked out a deal for a UNC-NAR government. But it did not last.

Panday nominated Robinson for the presidency in 1997 to get his coalition partner out of the way of the government and later fell out with Robinson on policy issues. In 2001 when the general election returned an 18-18 result Robinson fired Panday and appointed Manning as prime minister.

Robinson retired in 2003 and stayed away from active politics. However he endorsed the People's Partnership in 2010 led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who was originally a member of NAR. 

After she took office, Persad-Bissessar renamed the Crown Point Airport in Tobago the A.N.R. Robinson International Airport.

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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