By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
At least two parties will have their leaders square off in a political debate scheduled for Thursday, February 21 at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) in Paraquita Bay on Tortola.
None of those leaders include Progressives United Chairman Julian Fraser who, according to event organisers, wants no part in the leaders’ debate.
“We tried to get the chairman of each party and the National Democratic Party (Myron Walwyn), and the Virgin Islands Party (Andrew Fahie) have already confirmed. The Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (Ronnie Skelton) is yet to confirm, but Progressives United (Fraser) declined,” debate committee member Eustace ‘Boss’ Freeman told BVI News on Friday.
Attempts to contact Fraser for comment have been unsuccessful. This is the is the second debate Fraser has shied away from since declaring his candidacy for the Third Electoral District.
When invited to a debate against political newcomers Aaron Parillon of the NDP and Dr Arlene Smith-Thompson of the VIP, Fraser neglected to confirm whether he would debate. And with a decline from Parillon at the time, organisers had no choice but to cancel. Smith was the only candidate who expressed a willingness to debate.
As for the party leaders’ debate which is scheduled for 6:30 pm inside the Eileen Parsons Auditorium at HLSCC, Freeman said the purpose of the event is to steer the political conversation in a direction that voters want.
“A lot of times we go out to the rallies and we get distracted by all the festive atmospheres. It is about what they want you to hear. But we have some serious issues at this time, and we want to have a clear understanding,” he said.
“The debate committee believes the debate gives voters an opportunity to zero in on the parties/movements that are vying for office ideology at this crucial time,” Freeman added.
Freeman said each political head will give a two-minute opening statement as well as closing remarks. The actual debate will then be broken down into three segments.
In the first segment, each candidate will answer questions that they were given ahead of the debate. They will be asked questions from an online audience in the second segment. And in the final segment, members from the audience will pose their questions to the debating political leaders.
Following each round, candidates will be allowed at least one opportunity for a rebuttal.
Each leader will bring two accompanying candidates from their respective parties to participate in the debate, Freeman said.
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