February 9, 2018 By Memunatu Bangura
The Presidential Debate Committee, which comprises Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Sierra Leone Decide 2018 Series from Africa Young Voices (AYV), yesterday announced that six presidential candidates will participate in the February 15 Presidential Debate.
The All People’s Congress party (APC), Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), National Grand Coalition party (NGC), Coalition for Change (C4C), Citizens Democratic Party (CDP) and Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) met the set criteria, having filed in above 25% of parliamentary candidates for the election.
The presidential debate is scheduled for 15th February, 2018, at the Bintumani International Conference Centre. The debate will be transmitted live by AYV television and radio, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) radio and television, Star television and over forty radio stations across the country via the Independent Radio Network.
According to the Committee’s spokesperson, Ransford Wright, the selection was done after consultations with representatives of the parties that signed a public commitment to participate in the debate.
“We resolved during those consultations that a debate with sixteen presidential candidates will be unproductive and the desired objective would not be achieved,” he said.
He stated that having all sixteen candidates on stage during a debate, key issues will not be addressed in an accurate manner, coupled with the fact that candidates will not have enough time to deliver their discourse thoroughly.
He explained that the committee set a criterion for the selection of participants, and that only six political parties met the said criterion.
“Flag bearers from other political parties who will not participate in the debate will be given an opportunity to make a statement to the nation. The debate will focus on three broad thematic areas; Economy and Inclusive governance, Human Resources Development and ‘Leh we push Salone go bifo’,” he stated.
Mr. Wright noted that the debate shall be conducted in English, and that candidates will be allowed to express themselves in krio.
He continued further that there would be no questions from the plenary, while audience participation would be executed through the nine satellite studios.
“The debate will be in a format of case studies, where the real life experience will be compiled with candidates required to demonstrate how their policies will affect the lives of the common man. Equal amount of time will be allocated to each candidate to express themselves,” Wright added.
He disclosed that a total of twenty-five (25) invitations will be given to each participating political party, while those who will not take part will be entitled to ten (10) invitations.
However, concerns were raised by other political parties, who failed to meet the lay down criterion with regards the committee refusal to allow them to participate.