The State owned Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation yesterday requested the two main presidential candidates to allow the SLRC to host their public debate.
This came after Prime Minister and UPFA Presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday officially accepted the challenge thrown by UNP leader and Presidential candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe for a live, televised debate on current issues facing the nation on the eve of a crucial presidential poll.
In a letter to both candidates, Rupavahini Chairman M. M. Zuhair said under Section 117 (3) of the Presidential Elections Act No 15 of 1981, as amended by Act No 16 of 1988, it was the duty of the SLRC Chairman to provide the facilities for this purpose on SLRC channels.
?We would be pleased to offer a live broadcast to the nation on Channel One at any time on or before Monday November 14, under rules and format to be agreed between the two candidates or their nominees?, the letter said.
Mr. Zuhair said the SLRC had kept the Elections Commissioner informed of this offer to host the debate and assured both candidates that every effort would be made to provide a very independent forum for the national event.
The Rupavahini chairman also noted that Mr. Rajapakse had already made inquiries from the SLRC about hosting the debate.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rajapakse in a letter to Mr. Wickremesinghe accepting the challenge said:
Your letter dated 7 November 2005 in regard to a public debate in the run up to the Presidential Election of 17 November 2005, was received by my office on the evening of 8 November 2005. In order to make arrangements for the debate, I wish to nominate Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma who will liaise with your nominated representative. He can be contacted on telephone No.5628095 or e-mail email@example.com.
Whilst thanking you for your response, I take objection to what you have stated in your letter in regard to what I have offered to the country. I am not surprised that you and those around you are confused. But the people of this country are certainly not. People`s response to what I have offered is overwhelmingly positive and that is what matters to me.
My representative will discuss the `Suggested Ground Rules for the Debate` (attached to your letter) with your representative and arrive at a conclusion.