As much conjecture has been given to the happenings of those times, with the whole episode and its aftermath being cloistered, as has been given to the reasons we have refused to examine the events.
The outline history of the six days of insurgency, hostage crisis and immediate aftermath is fairly well known to all. What is not known is how the insurgency was planned, who outside of the Muslimeen may have known what was going to happen, and what went on behind the scenes in terms of the remnants of the government of the day coming to terms with the situation and dealing with it.
We expect that all parties who may have been involved, and those said to have been involved, will be summoned to appear before the Inquiry. Strangely, we believe that coup leader Abu Bakr will be a willing and cooperative witness before the Inquiry when it is convened. Those involved in the coup attempt cannot be tried again for what they did at the time, and therefore would have no reason to be reticent in what they will have to say. It will be up to the Commissioner(s) and to the public at large to judge the veracity of what they will tell us.
Many argue that the reason the matter has never been investigated was that the subsequent Prime Ministers of the country were both said to have had prior knowledge of “something” about to happen in Parliament on July 27, 1990. Both Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday have denied this charge. However, both were fortuitously absent from parliament on that day.
Both Manning and Panday had consistently dismissed appeals from many quarters to hold an Inquiry into the coup attempt. Neither ever attended the annual Memorial service at the eternal flame outside the Red House.
So, with that history of keeping the event hidden, why are we suddenly going to have the Inquiry? Well, to start with there is a government in power unstained, so to speak, by allegations of knowledge or complicity in the event. Speaking after the cabinet meeting yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said that it was necessary to “bring finality after 20 years”. She also correctly stated that in order to ensure that such an event did not happen again, the coup attempt needed to be aired in public. She acknowledged that the number of guns which were brought into the country to mount the coup were still in the hands of criminal elements, and that the “country is still paying for this.”
She stated that the current spate of gun crimes is a holdover from the coup attempt and the wanton distribution of guns to anyone wanting them by the Muslimeen.
The announcement will bring comfort to the many who lost relatives during, and in the years following the coup attempt.
The Memorial Service at the eternal flame on Tuesday, commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the event, will now be a Song of Praise. We thank you Madame Prime Minister for your decision to shine the light of truth on this event.