Debates 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.

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