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Security Tightened Panday Home

December 15, 2000

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Officials tightened security at the home of Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, the apparent winner in tense elections, after what they described as threats by the leader of a Muslim group that once tried to overthrow the government.

Top government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday, would not disclose the nature of the threats but said they may have been made last week at a gathering called by the black Muslim leader, Yasin Abu Bakr.

Hasan Anyabwile, the head of security for Abu Bakr’s group, Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, denied that any threats had been made and called the allegation a ``fabrication″ on the part of the ruling party.

``As far as I recall, and the police can bear us out, no threats were made,″ Anyabwile said. ``And it is strange that if these threats were made last week, why are they responding now?″

The heightened security followed tense general elections in Trinidad and Tobago Monday that pitted Panday’s United National Congress party _ which is largely supported by those of East Indian descent _ and the black-dominated opposition party, the People’s National Movement.

Panday’s party won a narrow victory in the vote, according to preliminary results. But on Thursday, Trinidadians were still waiting for the president to officially announce Panday’s return as prime minister, as required by law.

Arnold Corneal, communications officer for President A.N.R. Robinson, said he was waiting for official results, which could come as late as Tuesday as voter recounts continued in hard-fought constituencies.

Panday’s United National Congress won 19 of the country’s 36 parliamentary seats in preliminary counts, while the National Movement of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning won 16 and a third party garnered a single seat.

Abu Bakr’s group attempted to overthrow the government in 1990 in a coup that left two dozen people dead and hundreds injured. Robinson, who was then prime minister, was shot in the leg.

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