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Format for national debates not yet set

Published:Thursday | November 5, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

The two major political parties have not yet agreed on a format for national debates ahead of the impending election although the campaign is on in earnest.

General Secretary of the People's National Party (PNP) Paul Burke told The Gleaner yesterday that there are some unresolved issues in relation to format, but he was not in a position to elaborate.

Burke said a meeting involving chairman of the Jamaica Debates Commission, Noel DaCosta, and representatives of the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is scheduled for next Monday.

"The chairman has written to us and we have responded, and it is my understanding that it's not just [the] date, but an issue over format," said Burke. "But I don't know what is being proposed."

Burke told The Gleaner that he did not want to presuppose the outcome of the meeting until it is held.

"After next week Monday, there should be more clarity on how the Debates Commission intends to proceed."

JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang told The Gleaner that the party's deputy general secretary, Audley Gordon, has been appointed to represent the JLP at the meeting.

Chang echoed Burke's sentiment that there would be much more to divulge after the meeting.

"There is really nothing new at this stage," he said. "We will be making a comment after the meeting is held."




Asked whether the JLP has any concerns, Chang said: "Nothing to go public with at this time. We expect that they will set the final format [at the meeting]."

Now the norm ahead of elections, the Jamaica Debates Commission has produced and presented debates for all national and local elections since 2002. For general election, three debates are held covering social and economic issues, and a leaders' debate between the contenders for the office of prime minister.

Traditionally, these debates are staged in the period between nomination day and election day.

The Jamaica Debates Commission is a partnership between the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce and the Media Association Jamaica Ltd.