ITN directed to live telecast Sajith – AKD debate



NPP/JVP pushes for one-to-one, SJB prefers team debate

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has directed his Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor, Sagala Ratnayake, to ensure that ITN would live telecast the Sajith Premadasa – Anura Kumara Dissanayake debate on the economic policies of their parties.

Political sources said that while the SJB had preferred a team debate, Dissanayake was firm on a one-to-one contest.    Following the presidential directive, Ratnayake has told the ITN administration that if there is such a debate, it should be telecast live, president’s office sources said.

ITN Chairman Sudarshana Gunawardana has been told that if Premadasa and Disanayake preferred not to come to the ITN studios, necessary crews and equipment be sent to whatever location they prefer.

The president’s directive followed a statement by SLPP Colombo District MP Premnath C Dolawatte that all private channels are vying to telecast the debate but government managed TV channels have been silent.

Dolawatte said so during a meeting between the president, ministers and MPs at the presidential secretariat on Wednesday, sources said.

Chief Government Whip and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told the meeting that it was the SJB that challenged the JVP for a debate. Originally it was planned to have two teams from the two sides to debate the economy and their plans to develop the country. The JVP has counter proposed that the debate should be between the leaders of two parties and Anura Kumara Dissanayake was ready to take on Sajith Premadasa.

State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said that the SJB kept on insisting that the debate should be between two teams from each party. The JVP however stands their ground that the contest must be between the two party leaders.