PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government says the state funeral for former president ANR Robinson will be held on May 1 as tributes continue to pour in for 87-year-old regional statesman who died on Wednesday.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith, who is heading a committee planning the funeral, said that there will be a five-day period of mourning ending with the burial on May 3 in Tobago.
The funeral service will be held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in the heart of the capital.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissesar, paying tribute to Robinson in Parliament on Friday, said that his body will lie in state in the Rotunda of the Red House (Parliament), April 29-30, “and I know thousands of our citizens would want to take the opportunity to pay their respects.
“Later his body will be flown to the island of his birth, Tobago, where it will also lie in state, (May 2) followed by a private internment,” she said.
She said his death brings to a “close a life that was lived with tremendous purpose and achievement” and that while like all others he was not a perfect individual “what set him apart was that in just his one lifetime, he set out on a journey to change the life he found, and he succeeded”.
Former prime minister Patrick Manning, who Robinson had made head of government following the unprecedented 18-18 tie in the 2001 general election, said the former head of state would be remembered for his courage and bravery in the many dire circumstances he faced as prime minister, most significant of which was the attempt by members of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen group to overthrow his government in 1990.
“He has secured a place in the history of this blessed nation as one who has served in public life over several decades, dedicating himself to the service of the public and making significant and impactful decisions over his tenure, both as prime minister and as president,” Manning said in a statement.
Former Commonwealth secretary general, Sir Shridath Ramphal, praised Robinson’s “indefatigable commitment” to Caribbean regionalism.
“Among the many epitaphs and eulogies to ANR Robinson may I add my own as a fellow West Indian. It was as a West Indian that I knew him first—then a young Member of the House of Assembly of the Federation of The West Indies, and when I was a member of the Federation’s Legal Department.
“His commitment to the federal principle was an inspiration to all who laboured in the vineyard of regionalism. And when federalism lost to baser instincts, ‘ANR’ was among those who never gave up his West Indian identity.
“Nearly 30 years later, it was he, now Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister, in a paper he submitted to Caribbean Heads meeting in Grand Anse, Grenada—a paper entitled ‘The West Indies Beyond 1992’—that recalled CARICOM to its intellectual moorings,” Sir Shridath said.
He said Robinson’s vision of the West Indies beyond 1992 was not to be attained by the generation of leaders who followed him, but it remains a beacon to guide them and the people of the Caribbean.
“ANR Robinson’s legacies are manifold, like the International Criminal Court, but he can be honoured best by our striving in the Caribbean to fulfil the vision he had for this region in the 21st century.”
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was saddened at the death describing him as “a champion of international justice and one of the main architects of the International Criminal Court”.
Ban said Robinson is internationally recognized for his proposal, during the 44th session of the UN General Assembly in 1989, to create a permanent court to hear cases involving the international drug trade, which eventually led to the inauguration of the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, Netherlands.
“The Secretary-General extends his sincere condolences to the Robinson family and to the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago,” the statement added.