PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Trinidad and Tobago government Friday denied reports of an imminent coup as hundreds of workers and commuters made their way out of the city early.
Communications Minister Vasant Bharath in a taped message to media houses described the plot as a hoax and “part of an orchestrated campaign” to destablise the oil rich twin island republic.
He said “this is the second rumour in the past week aimed at disturbing the public peace” adding “there is no truth in the rumour about attempted coup in Trinidad and Tobago”.
On July 27, 1990, members of the radical Jamaat Al Muslimeen group led by Yasin Abu Bakr staged an insurrection aimed at overthrowing the then ANR Robinson administration.
Bakr led more than more than 100 members in coordinated attacks on the Parliament and the lone television station. At least 24 people, including one legislator, Leo Des Vignes, were killed during the six day insurrection that ended on August1.
Bakr and his men were tried for treason, but the Court of Appeal upheld the amnesty offered to secure their surrender, and they were released.
However, The London-based Privy Council, the country’s highest court, later invalidated the amnesty, but the Muslimeen members were not re-arrested.
Bakr has since vowed to host an event in a bid to provide Trinidad and Tobago with an explanation as to why his group sought to overthrow the government in 1990.
His position followed the release in March of the report by the Commission of Inquiry that was chaired by the Barbadian jurist Sir David Simmons.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar told legislators that she hoped the publication of the report would bring considerable satisfaction and some closure to Robinson, who withstood the intended humiliation of those days of infamy with remarkable dignity and courage. Robinson died last month at the age of 87.
Bakr never appeared before the Commission and said he has not read the report of the Commission.
As nervous citizens made their way out of the capital on Friday, in a scene reminiscent of the 1990 events, Bharath said the “ malicious rumours of coup are totally rejected as nothing more than a theatrical attempt to create panic and alarm.
“There is absolutely no evidence of a security threat or breach and members of the public are assured that normal conditions prevail in the city and across the nation,” he said, adding that in consultation with the Ministry of National Security, the National Operations Centre “has explored all avenues of information gathering and spoken to all law enforcement agencies and all intelligence agencies and there is no information that corroborates this rumour”
Bharath said that “the Ministry of National Security will continue to align all resources to ensure the security of the State and its citizens”.