Between the years 1972 and 1983, the country profited greatly from the rising price of oil and the discovery of vast new oil deposits in its territorial waters, resulting in an economic boom that increased living standards greatly. In 1976 the country became a republic within the Commonwealth, though it retained the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as its final appellate court. The position of governor-general was replaced with that of President; Ellis Clarke was the first to hold this largely ceremonial role. Tobago was granted limited self-rule with the creation of the Tobago House of Assembly in 1980.
Williams died in 1981, being replaced by George Chambers who led the country until 1986. By this time a fall in the price of oil had resulted in a recession, causing rising inflation and unemployment. The main opposition parties united under the banner of National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) and won the 1986 Trinidad and Tobago general election, with NAR leader A. N. R. Robinson becoming the new Prime Minister. Robinson was unable to hold together the fragile NAR coalition, and social unrest was caused by his economic reforms, such as devaluing the currency and implementing an International Monetary Fund Structural Adjustment Program. In 1990 114 members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, led by Yasin Abu Bakr (formerly known as Lennox Phillip) stormed the Red House (the seat of Parliament), and Trinidad and Tobago Television, the only television station in the country at the time, holding Robinson and country’s government hostage for six days before surrendering. The coup leaders were promised amnesty, but upon their surrender they were then arrested, but later released after protracted legal wrangling.
The PNM under Patrick Manning returned to power following the 1991 Trinidad and Tobago general election. Hoping to capitalize on an improvement in the economy, Manning called an early election in 1995, however, this resulted in a hung parliament. Two NAR representatives backed the opposition United National Congress (UNC), which had split off from the NAR in 1989, and they thus took power under Basdeo Panday, who became the country’s first Indo-Trinidadian Prime Minister. After a period of political confusion caused by a series of inconclusive election results, Patrick Manning returned to power in 2001, retaining that position until 2010.