Nikoli Edwards wants debates with political leaders before elections
Leader of the Progressive Party, Nikoli Edwards, has called for debates between parliamentary hopefuls as the country prepares for local government and general elections.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Edwards said the incorporation of debates in the election process will work towards ending the two-party system that currently exists. This, as he called on the Trinidad and Tobago Debates Commission (TTDC), an independent body created by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce in 2010, to promote debates on issues facing the country as a means of further enhancing the democratic process.
"While there have been many successes as well as unfortunate drawbacks in the past surrounding the debates, largely because of the politicking of the PNM and the People’s Partnership, the TTDC should recommit to a process whereby those who are eligible to participate in the debates are given an opportunity to so do, even if their opponents opt out. Furthermore, this venture should be supported by both public and private partners in the interest of all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago."
In making his case, the Progressive Party leader explained that debates will reduce the advantage political parties occupying seats in the government or opposition already have.
He also gave his commitment that he and each member of his party seeking political office will engage in all national debates in order to present and defend their policies and positions.
Edwards further called on all other political entities to make the same decision.
"With the upcoming Local Government Elections and the General Elections, those seeking political office should no longer be allowed to hide behind one-side political platforms at rallies and media conferences but should be mandated to share a stage with their counterparts where their leadership skills can truly be compared, contrasted and ultimately tested."
Meanwhile, Edwards requested a national poll by members of the media, to decide whether the public is in favour of political debates to assist in determining which candidate or political entity is worthy of their support.
The Chamber was also urged to reveal the status of the TTDC and to renew its call for a debate culture in a Trinidad and Tobago.