Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Senator Nazim Burke led two other Senators in walking out of Tuesday’s meeting of the Upper House in protest against an action taken by President Chester Humphrey.
Burke was joined by fellow NDC member, Sen. Franka Bernadine and Farmer’s Representative, Senator Keith Clouden after Humphrey indicated to Senator Burke that his contributions on a bill were irrelevant to the proceedings.
The Congress leader was addressing the Hydrocarbon Exploration Incentive Bill that seeks to provide incentives for businesses that are interested in exploring for oil and gas in Grenadian waters.
Sen. Burke was accusing the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government of continuing to play the “throat and dagger” relationship with the public in relation to oil and gas.
According to the NDC leader, the government is failing to come in an open and transparent way to the public and talk about the agreement made with the Russian outfit known as Global Petroleum Group (GPG) in relation to the exploration of oil and gas.
“Say we have entered into an agreement with Global Petroleum Group, say what the terms and conditions of the agreement are; let us have an actual debate as to whether or not certain things are agreeable or not agreeable…why is there this cloud of secrecy around the agreement…”, Burke stated.
The Senate President interrupted and asked Burke to help him see the relevance of his comments as the bill at hand spoke specifically of tax and charge relief to investors who wish to explore oil and gas in the Grenada waters.
In response, Sen. Burke stated that the bill speaks to any petroleum group wishing to explore for oil in Grenada which included Global Petroleum Group as explained by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation a few weeks ago.
“If you say that you can’t see what I’m saying, I can’t make you see…Mr. President….”, Burke said.
Humphrey’s response was: “If you have nothing to say then take your seat…”.
Burke complied and within seconds he along with Senators Bernardine and Clouden walked out of the Senate sitting.
Government Senator, Winston Garraway, rising in support of the bill just as Senator Burke and others were walking off, condemned his action to leave the building.
“…You (Burke) should respect this institution and go through with the debate but you walk out but Mr. President, that is the order of the day, it’s not the first time, it’s not the second time and it will continue because he cannot really stand up to the fact. He cannot really stand up and face reality, he will continue to run. Who knows, it might be the last opportunity for him…”, Garraway quipped.
THE NEW TODAY newspaper spoke with Labour Representative in the Senate, Raymond Roberts on the issue and he said that a great injustice was done to Sen. Burke.
“I think what Sen. Burke was doing was to help Grenadians to comprehend an issue that is very controversial. GPG is not a company with great credibility. All that (I have) read about GPG is that it seems to be a company that is on a fishing expedition…” he said.
Sen. Humphrey and Burke were once members of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) that created the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution after the left-leaning political party toppled the Eric Gairy government in a coup d’etat.
The two latter became members of Congress and were in the forefront of the battle to help the party to win the 2008 general election against the NNP.
Burke and Humphrey became bitter enemies in 2012 when NDC party members held a convention and expelled a number of persons including the current Senate President over a leadership battle with then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
The so-called Group of Rebels including Humphrey and former NDC General Secretary, Peter David have always pointed an accusing finger at Burke as the person who triggered the internal feuding within Congress.
The Rebels threw their support behind NNP which ended with a clean sweep of all 15 seats in the 2013 general elections.