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Govt: No coup plot

By Darcel Choy and Julien Neaves Saturday, May 17 2014

click on pic to zoom in
On my command: An officer shouts a command to his Coast Guard contingent during the Joint Recruit Passing Out parade for the Coast Guard and Air Guard...
On my command: An officer shouts a command to his Coast Guard contingent during the Joint Recruit Passing Out parade for the Coast Guard and Air Guard...

Minister of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications Vasant Bharath yesterday dispelled “malicious rumours” of a coup attempt within the city of Port-of-Spain, saying, it was nothing more than a “theatrical attempt to create panic and alarm.”

In an audio statement issued at 5.20 pm, Bharath assured citizens that there was no coup attempt upon the Government as there was no truth nor evidence of any security threat or breach and normal conditions prevailed in the city and across the nation.

“In consultation with the Ministry of National Security, I wish to advise that the National Operations Centre has explored all avenues of information gathering and spoken to all law enforcement agencies and all intelligence agencies and there is no information that corroborates this rumour,” he said.

Bharath noted that this was the second rumour of this nature that has surfaced in the past week and it seemed to be part of an “orchestrated campaign of mischief aimed at disturbing the public peace.”

“The Ministry of National Security will continue to align all resources to ensure the safety and security of the State and its citizens,” he said.

The rumour was so widespread that it reportedly caused panic among many citizens as many called newsrooms to find out whether it was true. Some said they were told by others in the city to leave as soon as possible. There were reports of a traffic gridlock. Some took to the various social media networks expressing their concern.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith, speaking with the media following the Joint Recruit Passing Out Parade at the Heliport in Chaguaramas, said law enforcement agencies knew from the first time that call about the coup was made it was a hoax and that one individual was responsible for it.

“I ask the country when we have situations hear it from the law enforcement agencies first, hear it from the National Operations Centre, hear it from the Ministry of National Security. If something happens I will be the first to let the country be aware. There was never a situation like that in any possible way,” he said.

Griffith said the rumour was based on a hoax call and also assured there will be no repeat of the 1990 attempted coup under him.

“The whole country I ask them (to) trust me on this. There can be no repeat of 1990 or anything remotely close between now and whilst I remain in office. It is not going to happen on my watch,” he said. Griffith noted that no group of individuals can even think of attempting a coup because of the Defence Force and the National Operations Centre which has coordination for real time information that is passed on to all agencies. “And because of that there can be no situation where rumours can be spread and the law enforcement agencies will not be aware of what’s going on.”

He added, “If at any time someone decides to put God past their thoughts and do something like that it will be dealt with in the quickest possible time.”

Griffith said he is trying to build into the country a proper alert state to give assurances that “when one individual would make a stupid statement it just spreads.”

He continued, “We as a country what I am asking us is to be mature. Let us stop just listen to rumour, propaganda, hearsay and sensationalism.”

Griffith noted that he established a national security policy with a national alert state “which means that at any time the most remote rumour, we pick it up, we analyse the situation and then we know if to discard it, to shelve it or to move forward towards intelligence. Immediately there was no such thing that took place. One person just had nothing to do, he probably wanted to go home early on a Friday.”

He said the matter of identifying the individual was being dealt with separately.

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