of debates a debacle
By Santhush Fernando
The much-debated and much-awaited debate between the two main presidential
candidates Mahinda Rajapakse and Ranil Wickremesinghe was called
off yesterday after the two sides failed to reach agreement on the
ground rules and the moderator.
Prime Minister Rajapakse’s nominee Dullas Alahapperuma and
UNP leader Wickremesinghe’s nominee Milinda Moragoda issued
a statement last night saying that after two rounds of discussions
on Friday and yesterday they decided there was no time left to take
a decision whether it should be a TV debate or a public debate.
The Sunday Times learns that the UNP wanted National Police Commission
Chairman Ranjith Abeysuriya as the moderator while the UPFA proposed
former Presidential Secretary K. H. J. Wijedasa.
The UPFA wanted the debate to be handled by the state-owned Rupavahini
Corporation but the UNP wanted both state and private TV channels.
But soon after the two nominees issued a joint statement agreeing
to disagree, other frontliners of the two sides fired at each other.
UNP spokesman G. L. Pieris said Mr. Rajapakse’s proposals
were illogical and could not be accommodated into a debate at all
while UPFA sources said the UNP was insincere in its offer.