AN invitation has gone out for the two contenders for the leadership of the People’s National Movement (PNM), incumbent Dr Keith Rowley and challenger Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, to participate in a live televised debate on May 12, in the run-up to the May 18 internal elections.
The group pushing for the debate is the PNM’s Heliconia Foundation for Young Professionals, which describes itself as a progressive ‘think-tank’ dedicated to shaping and advancing the principles of the PNM.
Rowley told the Express Saturday, “I will gladly participate if they are able are able to properly organise such an exercise.”
Beckles-Robinson could not be reached for comment.
A statement Saturday, signed by the foundation’s debates commission, chairman Michael Coppin said the move was a response to a decision by the party’s General Council on March 15, 2014, that an independent body host a debate between the two contenders for the post of political leader in the party’s upcoming internal Elections.
According to Coppin, “having received the endorsement by the party’s general council to host a debate between the two parties, I, on the direction of the Executive of the Heliconia Foundation for Young Professionals and as Chairman of its Debates Commission, invited Dr Rowley and Mrs Beckles-Robinson to commit to a live debate on Monday 12, on matters of public policy, social issues and leadership. “
He added that the “The letter of invitation dated Thursday 27th March, 2014, included a proposal to the two candidates (based on the Jamaican Debates Commission’s model used in the 2014 Trinidad and Tobago local government debates) which outlined the immense need for a debate of this nature and emphasised the need for both candidates to demonstrate to the party’s membership and to the nation that they have the vision and the substance to be the next Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. “
The Debates Commission also attached the Code of Conduct and Ground Rules to the letter of invitation.
Coppin said the “Commission remains optimistic that it will garner favourable feedback from both esteemed candidates as it works toward the sound planning and execution of this most noble task.”