Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday dies at 90

Basdeo Panday, a former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago who was the first person of Indian descent to hold that position, has died. He was 90.

Basdeo Panday

Panday died on January 1 last, surrounded by his family, according to a statement that his daughter, Mickela Panday, posted on social media.

β€œHe passed with his boots on, keeping everybody around him on their toes with his wit and humor,” she wrote.

Panday served as prime minister from 1995 to 2001 following key elections that marked a turning point for the Indo-Trinidadians who live in the twin-island nation.

He was a lawyer, economist, trade union leader, actor and civil servant who co-founded three political parties, including the opposition United National Congress.

In 1957, Panday left Trinidad and Tobago to go to the United Kingdom to further his education. He obtained a diploma in drama from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1960 and a degree in law in 1962 from Inns of Court School of Law where he was a member of Lincoln’s Inn and was subsequently called to the bar.

He also received a Bachelor of Science in economics from the University of London as an external student in 1965.

In 2005, Panday and others were charged with corruption in a case related to an airport construction contract. The charges were later dropped, with supporters claiming the allegations were political persecution.

A state funeral for Basdeo Panday was held last Tuesday.