News Americas, PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Sat. May 3, 2014: The only man to serve as both President and Prime Minister of the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is set to be laid to rest today.
Arthur Napolean Raymond Robinson, more popularly known as A.N.R. Robinson, will be laid to rest after five days of mourning in the country.
Today, Saturday May, 3 2014, Robinson’s life will be celebrated with a State Ecumenical Service from 9:30 am at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet followed by the Final Procession and Internment at 3:30 p.m. at the Coast Guard Base, Milford Road along the Milford Road Esplanade to the Methodist Cemetery.
The Chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly lay in state on Friday May, 2014 at the Chamber, Assembly Legislature Building, Scarborough, Tobago. His coffin was draped in the national flag and displayed at the Chamber where visitors passed by to pay respects and say farewell.
Robinson, 88, one of the country’s most iconic figure died on April 9th at the St Clair’s Medical Hospital, Trinidad. He had survived being shot in the leg and beaten during the 1990 coup d’état attempt by the Jamaat al Muslimeen.
Robinson was elected to the Federal Parliament of the defunct Caribbean Federation in 1958 and to the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament as a representative for Tobago in 1961. He served as the first Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago after Independence and later as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He broke with the People’s National Movement (PNM) party following the Black Power disturbances in 1970 and founded the Action Committee of Democratic Citizens (ACDC). In conjunction with the Democratic Labour Party, Robinson led the ill-fated “No-vote” campaign of 1971.
Following the election, Robinson founded the Democratic Action Congress (DAC) which won the two Tobago seats in the 1976 and 1981 elections.
In 1981 Robinson joined forces with the United Labour Front (ULF) under the leadership of Basdeo Panday and the Tapia House Movement under the leadership of Lloyd Best to form the National Alliance. This group entered an Accommodation with the Organisation for National Reconstruction under the leadership of Karl Hudson-Phillips to fight (and win) the Local Government elections of 1983. Building on this victory the four parties combined to form the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) which won the 1986 elections by a margin of 33-3 and Robinson was appointed the first non-PNM Prime Minister.
Prior to the 1986 elections Robinson was instrumental in setting up the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and was its chairman from December 1980 to 16 December 1986. This local government entity was established in 1980 to strengthen the position of Tobago within the unitary state of Trinidad and Tobago. His party, the DAC (and later the NAR), controlled the THA from 1980 until 2001, when the PNM gained control of the body.
During the 1990 coup d’état attempt by the Jamaat al Muslimeen the Prime Minister Robinson and much of his Cabinet were held hostage for six days by gunmen under the leadership of Yasin Abu Bakr.
When instructed to order the army to stop firing on the Red House (the seat of Parliament where they were held hostage) Robinson instead instructed them to “attack with full force,” an action that earned him a severe beating from his captors. He was also shot in his leg.
Robinson served as the country’s third President from March 19, 1997 to March 17, 2003 and as Trinidad and Tobago’s third prime minister from December 18, 1986 to December 17, 1991.
His life was punctuated with numerous accolades, gaining international recognition for his proposal that eventually led to the founding of the International Criminal Court.
Robinson was also bestowed the following honors during his life time: Distinguished International Criminal Law Award, International Criminal Court Foundation 1977, Distinguished Merit Award for International Diplomatic Achievement 1986.
His name will live on in the annals of history including flying high on Trinidad & Tobago’s airport, which in 2011 was renamed the A.N.R. Robinson International Airport.