Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Senator Nazim Burke, who has in the past been the victim of many false and vicious rumours, has denied allegations that he is the one responsible for peddling a rumour that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had suffered a minor stroke a few weeks ago.
“It is silly of me to be spreading rumours about the Prime Minister. I would not do so and I have no interest in doing so. I just want to categorically deny any statements by anybody that I am responsible for peddling that rumour, it is simply false. I did not do it and I have no intention of doing it,” the NDC Leader told reporters last week Monday at a press conference.
He said that he had “not heard much of it (the rumour) until days after it had surfaced.
According to Burke it was reported to him that two political activists of the ruling party, Senator Winston Garraway and Ex-Senator, Sheldon Scott have been alluding to the spreading of the rumours about the Prime Minister’s health by opponents of the government.
“I want to make it categorically clear that I know absolutely nothing of this rumour. I am not responsible in any way for this rumour. I have not said and will not say anything about the Prime Minister’s health, especially, if I have no knowledge or information on his health.
“…I would not be so preposterous going around telling anybody or to be manufacturing any idea that the Prime Minister is ill or suffered a stroke.
The NDC party leader also used the opportunity to remind the nation that in the recent past he has been the “target of some of the most vicious and pernicious rumours ever levelled against any politician in this country.”
He referenced the days leading up to the 2013 election, in which he was “accused of owning 5 houses” by NNP operatives.
Last year, the high court delivered a judgement in Burke’s favour against NNP activist, Ian Edwards who used a radio programme to falsely accuse the NDC leader of building a number of houses while in office as Minister of Finance.
Burke also referred to a recent negative advertisement against him that was produced by opponents “containing my family, my mother and my grandmother and the role that they have been playing in my own development”.
He said that in the wake of the advertisement the Prime Minister Mitchell then used one of his rallies to insinuate that “he (Dr. Mitchell) didn’t know if I had a mother, or words to that effect.”
According to Burke, he “will not wish illness on any of my colleagues, no matter how much we disagree politically, no matter of our political or policy differences, I will not wish my political opponents or anyone else for that matter any ill health and I am hoping that they will not wish the same on me.
“We are all human beings, we are all vulnerable and we all are subject to ailments. Whatever happens to any of us we can only pray for each other and hope the best for each other.
Prime Minister Mitchell who had accused Sen. Burke of spreading the rumour about his health issued a challenge to the Congress leader to run a 100 yards dash against him in an effort to prove his virility and dispel the rumour about the stroke.
Speaking at a rally of the ruling party in Gouyave last week Sunday, Dr. Mitchell challenged the NDC Political Leader to a race on January 27 in which former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas will be invited to be the referee.
PM Mitchell told supporters at the rally: “Do I look like a man that had a stroke recently? Do I look like a stroke man? Between me and Nazim, who look like they had a stroke? We want to go in Queen’s Park for a 100 yard dash. You hear me. Tell Nazim ah ready already”.
However, Sen. Burke has turned down the offer and told reporters that while Dr. Mitchell may be physically fit, the only race he is “interested in running against PM Mitchell is the electoral race in which the people of Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique will decide.
“I did not question his fitness and I have no reason to question his fitness. The question is, even if he is physically fit, that is not the question on the minds of Grenadians, it is whether he is fit enough to run the country,” said the NDC Leader.
Dr. Mitchell has promised to end Burke’s political career in the upcoming general elections which political observers are predicting could be called any time after March 1 at the earliest.