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* Sri Lanka holds first ever presidential debate
Sat, Oct 5, 2019, 11:08 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Oct 05, Colombo: Sri Lanka held its first ever presidential debate in the history of the country Saturday with candidates from several political parties taking the stage.

"Presidential Election 2019 - Mahjana Platform", which brings together all the candidates for the Presidential Election, ended successfully today at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo.

The debate organized by the March 12 Movement granted the opportunity to all 2019 Presidential hopefuls to be on the same platform, and deliver their respective policy statements to the public. This is the first time in the history of electoral politics in Sri Lanka that such a public forum was created.

All the candidates who have already placed their deposits for the presidential election participated in the forum except the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna candidate former defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

While in countries in the U.S. and Europe, candidates take the opportunity to express their views nationally at public forums, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa did not attend the first public forum held in the history of Sri Lanka.

Political analysts say while all the candidates who came to the public stage today seemed to have a unique opportunity to present their policies to the public, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa missed the opportunity to articulate his policies to the people at large.

Presidential candidates attended today's people's forum included presidential candidate for New Democratic Front Sajith Premadasa, Presidential Candidate of the National People's Force Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Former Army Commander and candidate of the National People's Movement Mahesh Senanayake, presidential candidate of Frontline Socialist Party Duminda Nagamuwa, United Socialist Party presidential candidate Sirithunga Jayasuriya, National Development Front Presidential candidate Rohan Pallewatta, presidential candidate of the Nawa Sihala Urumaya Sarath Manamendra, presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of Sri Lanka Dr. Ajantha Perera, and Ariyawansa candidate of the Democratic United National Front.

A report containing a series of proposals by the public requesting to hold a free and fair election was handed over to independent election monitors at the occasion. The brief report has been compiled with proposals submitted by the public at programs conducted by the APRIL youth network in 1000 villages in 22 districts of Sri Lanka.

Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of election monitoring organization PAFFREL and Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV, accepted the proposals.

Preventing misuse of public property, prevention of illegal campaigns such as posters and billboard advertising, minimizing media misuse, hate speech and false news propaganda, responsible social media usage, the financial use of political parties, conduct of election monitors, Using election bribes, religious places and religious clergy for electioneering are among the proposals.


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