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Thursday 21 November 2019
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Charles open to election debate

Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles  -
Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles -

People's National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council leader Kelvin Charles has said he would give "due consideration" to participating in a debate with the leaders of opposing political parties ahead of the next Tobago House of Assembly (THA), constitutionally due in 2021.

He said so last Wednesday at a news conference at Mt Irvine Bay Resort, where assemblymen met in retreat to discuss Tobago's allocation in the 2020 national budget.

Asked if he supported national debates for leaders of political parties, Charles responded: "It is something I have considered."

Pressed to elaborate, he said: "It is something that I have considered, meaning that it is a view."

Charles, who is also Chief Secretary, said there are pros and cons to debates.

"'There are various views on the matter. One view which could be a pro, is that the population can be provided the views of the political entities in respect of their development programmes and face questions from the media and other personnel concerning those matters."

On the flip side, he said invariably "there is a kind of acrimony that accrues therefrom."

Charles cited the 2008 United States presidential campaign as an example.

"Before the opposing parties debate, you have intra-party debates. And you see some of the bashing that takes place. One unintended

consequence of that is that it creates a kind of acrimony that makes it difficult for the party to be healed afterwards."

He said although the US has a history of debates, "you saw the kind of acrimony that did take place" between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

Charles added, "So, I am willing to consider all of the pros and the cons in the context of the culture of Trinidad and Tobago."

Last week, Congress of the People political leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan called for national debates before the December 2 local government election and next year's general election.

"Why don't we transform the electoral politics into proper debates?" she asked supporters at the opening of the party's St Augustine office.

"This is not just about debates for political leaders, there should be debates for candidate against candidate, local government candidate against local government candidate.

"Let the voters decide based on who they believe to be sincere, committed to doing the job and based on their plans and proposals moving forward."

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