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Former Prime Minister Denies Prior Knowledge of The 1990 Insurrection

Former Prime Minister Denies Prior Knowledge of The 1990 Insurrection

Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday has denied any prior knowledge of the 1990 insurrection by the Jamaat al Muslimeen.

He did so while testifying at Thursday’s hearing of the Commission of Enquiry into the events leading up to the 1990 attempted coup.

At a previous hearing, former Finance Minister in the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) administration Selby Wilson testified that his “gut feeling” was that former Prime Ministers Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday had prior knowledge of the attempted coup.

Mr. Panday told the Commission that on July 27, 1990 he left Parliament early to go rest at home because he was still recuperating from his open heart surgery.

He said his wife, Mrs. Oma Panday, awoke him to take a call from John Humphrey, who she said, had told her that the Muslimeen Leader Yasin Abu Bakr and other armed insurgents had stormed the Red House.

Mr. Panday said he was very drowsy at the time and told his wife to wake him up when it was over. He said he cannot understand how that could be misconstrued as meaning that he had prior knowledge of the attempted coup.

Mr. Panday also told the Commission that the country was at the time faced with challenges of racial discrimination, alienation and issues of trust, even within the Arthur N.R. Robinson-led Cabinet.

He cited an occasion when Minister of Trade and Commerce Ken Gordon sprang a surprise on Cabinet with a fait accompli agreement for the acquisition of the Iron and Steel Company of Trinidad and Tobago to ISPAT.

Mr. Panday said, when questions were raised, because there was no prior Cabinet consideration, Mr Gordon responded that members of Cabinet could not be trusted with those discussions.

Caribbean ISPAT had subsequently acquired shares in Caribbean Communications Network, the company that Mr. Gordon had returned to as Chairman after the NAR lost elections in 1991.

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