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Media invited to attend Press Conference on the General Elections’ 2015: Leaders’ Debates

For immediate release:

To Media /Assignment Editors

The Trinidad and Tobago Debates Commission (TTDC) has formally announced the dates for “General Elections 2015: Leaders’ Debates,” as August 20 & 27, 2015. TTDC will be inviting all qualifying parties to participate in these live public political debates preceding the General Elections.

The TTDC invites the media to attend this Press Conference, on Friday 17th July, 2015, at the Leon Agostini Conference Hall, Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Columbus Circle, Westmoorings at 3:00pm.

All members of the media are invited to cover this event.

Trinidad And Tobago Debates Commission Announces Debate Dates

For immediate release:

To Media /Assignment Editors

The Trinidad & Tobago Debates Commission (TTDC) wishes to announce that the two scheduled debates will be held on August 20 and August 27, 2015. This is consistent with the criteria for participation noted in our rules and guidelines, shared with all and allows the TTDC to identify all the entities who qualify to participate in the debates after the announcement of Nomination Day which falls on August 17th, 2015.   The debates will be a live broadcast, made for television, expected to attract an unprecedented local and international audience through the extensive use of new and traditional media.

The TTDC is a voluntary body, which has over the last six years successfully arranged debates ahead of the 2010 & 2013 Local Government Elections and for the 2013 Tobago House of Assembly Elections.

The TTDC is a fully independent and autonomous organization set up with the objective of strengthening the democratic process by staging debates on matters of national importance to assist the electorate in making informed political choices. Integral to this objective is the enrolling of the electorate, especially undecided voters, to make choices from a more informed perspective. The Commission aims to do so by giving voters the opportunity to hear from all our political leaders in a structured debate setting, their responses to issues drawn from the wider public and which the people of Trinidad and Tobago deem to be of relevance and importance.

The TTDC would like to state that it has held 9 meetings over the course of the last 2 months ahead of our decision.  We have listened to all the views put forward and we continue to act with integrity, with transparency and with fairness by engaging equitably with all parties.  We are confident that all eligible entities would benefit from the unique platform, which the debates afford party leaders through this unique and broad media outreach.

The TTDC would also like to address concerns raised over the last week about an announcement and subsequent withdrawal of a July 30 date for “The Great Debate”.  For the record, the TTDC did try to accommodate a request by the People’s Partnership (PP) representative, to hold an exclusive debate between the Leader of the People’s Partnership, Prime Minister, the Honourable Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the Leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM), Dr. The Honourable Keith Rowley.  However, despite our efforts to find an acceptable middle ground between both parties, the TTDC has been unable to deliver a solution that is workable.

As a result of this impasse, we reverted to our original rules, which included criteria for participation, which is the fairest way and in the public’s interest and does not give any party an advantage.

The TTDC considers that the addition of debates to our political culture will only enhance our democratic process and we look forward to this becoming an enduring addition to our general election campaigning process.

The debates will be available via multiple media platforms.  Leading up to the debates on August 20th and August 27th, the TTDC will be providing more details on the logistics and viewing options for these signal events.

Please continue to join the discussion and share your views on our Facebook page and website 


Debate Update

The TTDC has held further consultations with the two main parties and we have communicated to them jointly, the outcome of these latest discussions. We remain hopeful that all eligible parties will participate in the debates as promised. We await the response from both parties before making a more public announcement.


June 29, 2015
For Immediate Release: #TheGreatDebate

To Media /Assignment Editors

The Trinidad & Tobago Debates Commission is pleased to advise that it has completed its first round of discussions with political parties in the upcoming National Elections Debates.

The Commission is encouraged by the strong expressions of interest from all sides and is confident that this augurs well for a meaningful event.

Chairman of the Commission, Andrew Sabga said, “With the feedback we have now received, we believe that we have a path forward for these historic elections’ debates to take place.” He further stated, “It is our intention to create a significant media event that provides an open and fully transparent format that gives political leaders the opportunity to connect with all members of the national community in an unprecedented way.”

The Commission is actively seeking sponsorship for the debates and is encouraging businesses, organizations as well as individuals to invest in the event as a means of educating the public and heightening awareness of the challenges of governance and leadership in Trinidad and Tobago today.

The primary objective of the Trinidad & Tobago Debates Commission since its formation in 2010, is “To strengthen the democratic process by staging electoral debates on matters of national importance to assist the electorate in making informed political choices.”

Our aim is to bring T&T’s election process into the 21st century by making it possible for the public to hear the policies and plans of the Leaders of parties that are seeking to form the government. The debates create a structured and dignified forum for such dialogue, outside of the usual rhetoric-filled frenzy of political rallies.

For more information on the Commission and #TheGreatDebate, check our website at


Kamla, Rowley, agree to election debate

Chief executive officer of the T&T Debates Commission Catherine Kumar says the leaders’ debate for the 2015 general election is intended to assist the estimated 33 per cent of the electorate who are unsure about for whom they would vote.

She said that in a brief interview with reporters following yesterday’s workshop hosted by the commission, the T&T Publishers and Broadcasters Association at the US Embassy, Public Relations Department, Sweet Briar Road, Port-of-Spain.

She said while such debates were new to T&T “as you can see from the latest poll, we still have significant amounts of undecided voters and I think it would help them to make that critical decision, tipping it in one way or the other.”

No date has as yet been announced for the election but it is due no later than September 17. Parliament would dissolve by June 17.

Kumar in giving a status report on the proposed debate, said the commission was trying to meet with the leaders of the PNM and the People’s Partnership to agree on the rules. She said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley already have confirmed their participation.

The qualification criteria for leaders are expected to be revealed at a news conference hosted by the commission today.

Kumar said because the election date was not known “we really have to be in a state of readiness,” adding that venues were being looked at, including the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port-of-Spain.

She told the workshop former CNC3 news anchor Shelly Dass, now at the OAS, was being considered as a possible moderator.

Another journalist being considered is former Express reporter, Davan Maharaj. He is now the editor and executive vice-president at the Los Angeles Times.


Courtesy Guadian

2015 leaders’ debate… Only PP, PNM leaders qualify

Two political party leaders have raised concerns over being excluded from the upcoming national leaders’ debates to be hosted by the T&T Debates Commission (TTDC).

Political leaders of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), Jack Warner, and the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdullah yesterday claimed debates featuring only the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the People’s Partnership (PP) would be unfair to the public.

Yesterday, the TTDC formally launched the leaders’ debates at the Chamber of Commerce building, Westmorrings.

Chairman of the TTDC, Andrew Sabga said criteria for the debates only allowed PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley and PP leader Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissesar to take part as they were the only two political leaders to qualify under the commission’s criteria.

He said: “The debates will allow for the leaders of any party or alliance of parties.

“The party or alliance must demonstrate the potential to form the next government by nominating candidates for at least 50 per cent or minimum 21 seats,” Sabga said.

Alternatively, the party or alliance of parties may also enter the debates if it had an approval rating of 12.5 per cent or more in two nationally recognised polls, he added.

Source: The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.