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Did You Know: Today Marks The 20th Anniversary Of An Attempted Coup In Trinidad & Tobago?

AvaC 2010/07/28 01:49:15
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On Friday July 27, 1990, 114 members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, led by Yasin Abu Bakr and Bilaal Abdullah attempted to stage a coup d'état against the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Forty-two insurgents stormed the Red House (the seat of Parliament) and took the Prime Minister, A.N.R. Robinson and most of his Cabinet hostage, including Horace James, while seventy-two of their compatriots attacked the offices of Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), then the only television station in the country at that time and the Trinidad Broadcasting Company, then one of only two radio stations in the country. At 6.00 p.m. Yasin Abu Bakr appeared on television and announced that the government had been overthrown, and that he was negotiating with the Army. He called for calm, and said that there should be no looting.

The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and the Police responded by sealing off the area around the Red House. Widespread looting and arson took place in Port of Spain and other parts of the East-West Corridor, but the remainder of the country was calm. A State of Emergency was declared by Acting President Emmanuel Carter and Martial Law was imposed. Several members of Cabinet who had not been present in the Red House at the time of the attack set up office in the Trinidad Hilton. On the night of the 27th the Army took control of the TTT transmitter on Cumberland Hill, thus taking TTT off the air. After six days of negotiation, the Muslimin surrendered on August 1, and were taken into custody. They were tried for treason, but the Court of Appeal upheld the amnesty offered to secure their surrender, and they were released. The Privy Council later invalidated the amnesty, but the Muslimin members were not re-arrested.

About 24 people died during the coup attempt, with millions in property losses. Among the dead was Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central, Leo Des Vignes. Many people saw the coup attempt as the end of power of the National Alliance for Reconstruction government.
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