Lee-Yoon debate increasingly uncertain amid dispute over rules

SEOUL-- A planned one-on-one debate between ruling party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung and main opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol became increasingly uncertain Sunday as the two sides failed to narrow their differences over the rules.

Lee of the liberal Democratic Party (DP) and Yoon of the conservative People Power Party (PPP) are set to hold their first two-way debate Monday before having an expanded debate with two minor contenders Thursday.

DP and PPP negotiators met twice Sunday to hammer out the details of the one-on-one debate, with the ruling party initially proposing three themes -- people's livelihoods, foreign policy and ethical issues surrounding each candidate.

The PPP rejected the plan, saying it wanted a free debate with no restrictions on topics.

Lee accepted the PPP's terms but added the condition that neither candidate use reference materials during the debate.

The talks hit another dead end, as the PPP insisted on using reference materials related to Lee's alleged connection to a massive development corruption scandal.

"We let them have their way with the date and format. Our last request was that we hold the debate without reference materials to show (the people) fair and square what we have prepared," Rep. Park Ju-min, the DP's lead negotiator, told reporters.

The PPP countered that taking issue with the use of reference materials was no different from trying to stop the debate from going ahead.

"Saying that we can't even bring materials to show as proof that something was signed in the event (Lee) denies the allegations against him is saying we shouldn't have the debate altogether, " Rep. Sung Il-jong, the PPP's chief negotiator, said.

Meanwhile, minor candidates Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party and Sim Sang-jeung of the Justice Party launched separate sit-ins at the National Assembly to protest the planned one-on-one debate.

The two had sought injunctions to stop the three major TV stations from hosting a Lee-Yoon debate, and the injunctions were granted by two courts last week.

Following the courts' decisions, the PPP proposed a two-way debate without the involvement of the broadcasters. The DP consented while also demanding Yoon's participation in a four-way debate.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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