TODAY marks the 28th anniversary on the 1990 attempted coup this country’s government by the Jamaat al Muslimeen which saw then prime minister ANR Robinson and other members of the House of Representatives being held hostage in the Red House for five days.
Robinson had been beaten and shot in the lower right leg when he gave his infamous order to the army to “attack with full force.”
While many saw Robinson’s action as one of heroism, the Commission of Inquiry into the attempted coup criticised him for that.
Political analyst Dr Kirk Meighoo said he was criticised by the commission for saying that Robinson was right.
“The commission’s report stated that Robinson should not have said that. From reading through the evidence there are things there that I did not know before. I didn’t know how it happened, but I do know what happened was that the army did not attack with full force.
“I now have more details from the commission that it was (acting president) Dr Emmanuel Hosein who urged Winston Dookeran to start negotiating with (insurgent) Bilaal Abdullah so that the army would not attack with full force. It seems the army might have been following Robinson’s instructions.”
Meighoo said Robinson actually gave up the government. He said according to reports, Robinson was supposed to resign, Dookeran was to be prime minister of a government of national unity and rebels would get amnesty.
“Dookeran was released and his job was to secure that agreement. The government of national unity was supposed to include Abu Bakr, Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday. After securing the agreement he was supposed to go back inside, but he never did which was a very dangerous thing because Abdullah and his men had everybody for execution.
“Robinson gave up his government. It was not an easy thing to do, but he did resign. So the constitutionally elected government, he agreed for it to be deposed. The commission rejected my evidence during the inquiry calling me impertinent.”
Meighoo said Robinson spoke with the BBC and CANA about the agreement where he said he was anxious about why it was not adhered to.
He said the army and ministers who were outside did not want to honour it although Carter did sign the amnesty.
“People don’t understand that the government was actually given up by the prime minister and the people in the Red House. The Muslimeen’s surrender was under duress, but every surrender in history is under duress because that is what a surrender is. They said it would never stand up in court because it was under duress, but you don’t bring a surrender document to court.
“The point is the Muslimeen were too weak to carry out the coup, they couldn’t go any further than they did. But we have to be thankful to the Muslimeen in a sense too because they could have easily just executed everybody if they wanted, but it is clear they didn’t want the bloodbath. There was a rumour that the ministers on the outside wanted everybody inside dead,” he said
After the attempted coup Carter declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law.
During the inquiry, Brigadier Ralph Brown, who was in charge of the regiment during the uprising, said one of his options was to blow up the Red House and kill everybody.
Brown said when he heard the word amnesty, he wanted no part of that. He said from a military point of view the situation was contained.