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PRAY FOR ROBBIE

By SEAN DOUGLAS Saturday, March 15 2014

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PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday implored the nation to pray for ailing former president, Arthur Napoleon Raymond (ANR) Robinson, 87, hospitalised at St Clair Medical Centre since Thursday, as she laid the Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup in the Lower House.

Robinson served as the nation’s third president (1997 to 2003) and its third prime minister (1986 to 1991).

While giving few details of his ailment, she noted the irony that he had fallen ill on the same day (Thursday) that President Anthony Carmona had received the report on the investigation that had long been called for by Robinson.

Persad-Bissessar said the nation knows Robinson was the prime target in the attempted coup, and the report now confirms that a central mission of the insurgency involved the life of Robinson.

“Today, we are saddened that his health has now taken a down turn,” she said.

“He is currently hospitalised and we join in collective prayer for his well-being.”

Persad-Bissessar related earlier that day she had visited Robinson in her role as Prime Minister, and personally as a citizen who had been “inspired and strengthened by his leadership and demonstrated courage”. She said she had personally benefitted from his wisdom and sagacity.

Persad-Bissessar said her brief visit was to tell Robinson that the Commission that he had urged had done its monumental task and given its report to the President.

“I wish to dedicate the laying of this report in this House, which Mr Robinson served for so many years, to former President His Excellency Mr Robinson,” she said.

“He has been steadfast over the years in his calls for us to bring a clearer understanding of those dark and tumultuous days which started on July 27th 1990,” she recalled, “and which may have produced a different turn of events if Mr Robinson was not of the calibre, with an immense and demonstrated sense of national loyalty to his country and its people, regardless of personal consequences.” She recalled his unforgettable words, “Attack with full force!”

Persad-Bissessar earlier spoke to reporters on her visit to Robinson in St Clair.

“Yes, we did have a conversation and I’m very pleased that he acknowledged when I spoke with him,” she related. “He didn’t speak but he nodded his head. I touched him and (he) sort of calmed down. A very touching experience. A very brave man.” She noted the ironic timing of Robinson’s illness.

“I find it very interesting that today I’m laying that report in Parliament, with respect to the coup in which Mr Robinson was very much a hero in some senses, and today I am here (St Clair) to see him.

“He understood what I was saying, even though he didn’t speak. We go back a long way. I began my political life under the tutelage of former prime minister Robinson. We worked together when he was President. He is a very great man. He seems fine to me. He is, of course, not speaking, and he’s on the various medical things, but he was conscious to acknowledge the conversation.”

Newsday asked if he had suffered a stroke or similar?

Persad-Bissessar replied, “I am not able to comment on the medical condition. You would have to speak with his doctors on that. I am a doctor’s wife but not a doctor.” Is it serious? “The fact that he is here under care, I think it is serious. I would think it is a serious matter.” She asked the views of Health Minister, Dr Fuad Khan, a urologist. He said, “Once you are here (St Clair’s Medical Centre), it is a bit serious, but he is being taken care of, and he responded quite well to the Prime Minister’s touch. I must say that the Prime Minister spoke to Mr Robinson, he acknowledged, turned his head and eventually he was very, very peaceful and he actually fell asleep when you were touching him. So I think Mr Robinson should be doing okay for the rest of the evening.”

Persad-Bissessar said, “Our prayers are with him, of course, and his family.”

Newsday afterwards approached medical staff but were told his health was a confidential matter and told us to inquire of a close family member.

A couple hours later, Persad-Bissessar acknowledged her visit to Robinson in the Lower House where she laid the 1990 report. She asked the nation to pray for him.

Speaker Wade Mark then told the House, “I would like, on behalf of all of us, to wish the former president, Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson, a speedy recovery.”

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley told Newsday he visited Robinson at about 3.45 pm yesterday at St Clair Medical Centre, at the same time Persad-Bissessar was laying the coup report in the name of Robinson. “I won’t say more than the fact that I visited him. I paid my respects. I can’t say much more than that. I spent a little time with the family this afternoon at the nursing home.”

What was the mood among Robinson’s family members? Rowley replied, “It is very positive. They are very supportive and very positive. I won’t want to comment much more than that.”

In recent years, Robinson has suffered ill health including visual and auditory impairment, and difficulty in walking. He collapsed at the Church of the Assumption in 2010 after which he was warded at St Clair Medical Centre. In 2012, he was again hospitalised at St Clair for an undisclosed ailment.

Speculation has been that his health challenges were partly due to him being shot and beaten by Jamaat al Muslimeen members during the 1990 attempted coup.



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