Tuesday, 18 December 2007 1:41 PM

Opposition Turns Down Challenge for Public Debate

A challenge for a public debate between the two candidates for the Prime Minister post has been turned down.

Caretaker Prime Minister and caretaker government's candidate, Patteson Oti, yesterday challenged his rival, Dr. Derek Sikua, to a public debate on issues he used to topple the former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

In a press conference, Mr. Oti challenged that Dr. Sikua tell the nation how he will address issues he used in bringing the PM down.

The former Prime Minister Sogavare was accused of his "self-style leadership", coupled with his appointment of Julian Moti as attorney general, re-armament and the boycott of the Forum as the main reasons.

Dr. Sikua also alleged that Mr. Sogavare was involved in the 2000 coup that led to the downfall of the Ulufa'alu government.

In his challenge, Mr. Oti called on his rival to "come forward so that we can present our respective views to the media, which will be portrayed to the public".

But Solomon Times received confirmation from the Opposition office this afternoon that their candidate will not participate in any such public debate.

The spokesperson, who speaks on condition of anonymity, told Solomon Times that "it is not up to the people to vote for the Prime Minister" but that of the Members of Parliament.

"The Opposition is not sure what the caretaker Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Oti, is trying to pull through the challenge of a public debate, but we see it as an open door that could spark public reaction," the spokesperson said.

Solomon Times was told that the Opposition's concern is to avoid such reaction from the public, which could lead to a situation similar to that of the April riots last year.

The spokesperson also confirmed that Opposition members are currently camping in a resort on Savo to avoid intense lobbying in Honiara.

The Opposition group returns to Honiara today.

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