RIA TAITT Wednesday, October 18 2006
The controversy over who knew what and who did what in July 1990 continued yesterday as Prime Minister Patrick Manning emphatically denied that he had any foreknowledge of the 1990 coup attempt by the Jamaat al Muslimeen. Manning also categorically denied having made any statement which could give any such impression.
He was responding to statements by COP leader Winston Dookeran, who at a meeting in St Augustine last Friday night said Manning, in his remarks during the wind-up of the Budget debate in the Lower House that afternoon, admitted to knowing beforehand about the coup attempt.
But Manning pointed to Friday's Hansard in which he stated: "Let him (Dookeran) tell you what happened in 1990 after he was released from the Parliament to go outside and form a government of national unity. They believe we do not know. I know, because I was Leader of the Opposition at the time. It came to me that morning what was about to happen. They did not even have to look. Even before he was released, we put out a press release which said that the PNM would have no part of any government which came to power by means other than the democratic process. That is how we see it."
Manning who on Friday slammed Dookeran's "reluctance to carry the mantle of leadership during the 1990 coup attempt" explained that he was referring to events after the storming of the Red House on Friday, July 27, 1990 and specifically to Dookeran's failed attempts to form a government of national unity after his release on Saturday July 28, 1990.
Sources said that Manning had been informed about the proposal for a government of national unity by then acting President, Emmanuel Carter.
Newspaper records reveal that after the storming of the Red House and the taking of hostages, Dookeran, then a minister in the NAR government, was released on the Saturday, ahead of the other hostages in order to carry a list of demands from the insurgents to the political authorities outside.
This list included a demand for the then Prime Minister ANR Robinson to resign; an order for the installation of Dookeran as interim prime minister and the formation of a national unity government, which was to include members of the Opposition.
According to newspaper records, Jamaat leader Abu Bakr increased his demands on that same day to include an amnesty for members of the Muslimeen who had taken part in the coup.
Sources also revealed that Dookeran went to Camp Ogden after his release where acting president Carter and government ministers were safely secured by the army.
There he had to be treated in the sick bay for stress and trauma after which he met with the Ministers who had escaped the Muslimeen assault on the Parliament to discuss the proposed national unity government. However, the ministers turned down all the Muslimeen demands. Sources also said yesterday Dookeran never saw Carter. Sources added that by Sunday July 29, 1990 a state of emergency had been declared by Carter and by then the Muslimeen had indicated they would release Robinson the next day so a national unity government was a moot point.
The PNM in a release yesterday slammed Dookeran for "distorting" Manning's words and for "insinuating" that Manning had prior knowledge of the coup attempt.
"The Prime Minister's remarks were carried live on national television and radio for all to see and hear," the release stated. The release reiterated Manning stated the knowledge he had referred to; was the move to form a government of national unity and this information came to him on the very morning Dookeran was being released from the Red House.
The PNM release said the COP leader, "in attempting to deflect attention from his own absence from Parliament" during the Budget debate, had the "effrontery" to ask why Manning was not in the Parliament on the afternoon of the coup attempt.
The PNM said Dookeran should be aware that Manning was in the Red House that afternoon, but had walked out "in disgust" at the contributions from the other side that afternoon, including Dookeran's. The Hansard records reflected this, the party said.
The release added that Dookeran should also recall that absent from the Parliament that day was his (former) "erstwhile leader" (Basdeo Panday) who on being informed of the major threat to the country's democracy, remarked: "Wake me up when it's over." The PNM stated that the country had grown accustomed to Dookeran's politics of duplicity- saying one thing and meaning something else. "The PNM is convinced that the population will see through this new politics of deceit and confine Mr Dookeran to the special plot in the political cemetery reserved for duplicitous politicians," the PNM release said.
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