If political debates should pop up in other electoral districts, National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates might no longer be participating.
In a statement to BVI News on Monday, the NDP Press Office suggested that the party’s position is now that political debates should only be between leaders of the respective parties.
“The entire NDP team is looking forward to such an opportunity as a debate amongst party leaders. We do encourage all candidates, across all parties to utilise the same energy to encourage their leaders to come forward to debate on the future of the territory, planned by a neutral organisation or collection of citizens and residents,” said the NDP while noting that its chairman Myron Walwyn was the first candidate in the 2019 General Elections to call for a ‘leaders debate’.
The NDP gave that indication in response to questions on why one of its candidates, Aaron Parillon, has declined the invitation to participate in the debate for all Third Electoral District candidates.
The party’s seemingly new position on political debates comes weeks after the NDP fielded first-term legislator Dr Hubert O’Neal for the now-concluded Ninth District electoral debates.
Still no answer from Fraser
Meanwhile, leader of Progressives United and Third District candidate Julian Fraser is also yet to confirm whether he will participate in the debate.
His hesitation for not giving any direct confirmation up till this point is not clear. But a social statement from the debate organisers on Monday indicated that at least one candidate, or his supporters, was suggesting that the debate would be impartial. BVI News was unable to get a statement from Fraser up to press time.
Meanwhile, the debate organisers — who are a group only known as ‘The Conversation Committee’ — has denied those claims.
The committee said: “We refute any claims that the committee has been prepping any candidates for the debate. This is an inaccurate statement. The committee members have not engaged in behaviours or conversations that would negate their position to host the debate nor are any members aligned to any particular candidate.”
The group further said Arlene Smith-Thompson of the Virgin Islands Party is the only Third District candidate to confirm her participation in the debate so far.
“The Conversation Committee understands that it is the right of every candidate to choose whether or not they would like to participate in the debate. The intention of the debate is to provide an open platform for all candidates to discuss issues or ideas that affect the community. We respect the positions taken by each candidate and applaud their decision to be a part of change by deciding to contest the elections,” it said.
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