Thursday 5 December, 2019

Former House Speaker and Minister Rupert Griffith dead at 72

Former House Speaker and Government Minister, Dr Rupert Griffith, has died.

Griffith passed away on Wednesday at the age of 72, after ailing for some time.

His political career was shrouded in controversy when he switched from PNM to UNC in 1997 - Patrick Manning’s PNM gained 17 seats, Basdeo Panday’s UNC also gained 17 seats while the NAR gained two seats in Tobago. When the NAR decided to join with the UNC, Griffith left the PNM to join the Panday regime.

Griffith’s first shot at politics came during Manning’s first term in 1991 when the NAR was defeated following the 1990 coup. He was elected MP for Arima.

In 1995 he served as House Speaker and Deputy House Speaker between August and December. He was re-elected as Arima MP in 1995 as a Member of the PNM Opposition from 1995 to 1997.

When Manning called an early election which saw the PNM’s defeat, Griffith and La Brea MP Dr Vincent Lasse jumped ship. Griffith was subsequently appointed Minister of Information, Communication, Training and Distance Learning from 1997 to 2000.

He lost the Arima seat under the UNC in 2000 but was elected Speaker of the House in January 2001 and served for a short time until 2002. 

At the end of 2002, another election was called resulting in an 18-18 draw.

President Arthur NR Robinson broke the deadlock, selecting the PNM as the country’s ruling party.

Griffith remained Speaker until Parliament was summoned on April 5, 2002.

Years later, Griffith joined returned to Parliament under the People’s Partnership Government having won the Toco/Sangre Grande seat. He was appointed Minister of Tourism in 2010 and then Minister of Science and Technology in a cabinet reshuffle in 2012.


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