YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and the leaders of ten other political forces running in the December 9 parliamentary have agreed to take part in a live debate that will be hosted by the Armenian Public Television next week.

The state-owned broadcaster said on Friday that it is now working out the format and other practical modalities of the debate that will be aired on December 5. The pre-election discussion will likely last for at least two and a half hours, it said.

The Public Television and private Armenian TV channels have already hosted similar debates involving a smaller number of other senior members of the parties and blocs running for the parliament.

Boris Navasardian, the chairman of the Yerevan Press Club, said statements made by them were short on specifics. He said the upcoming debate between Pashinian and the other top party leaders should be “more interesting” because they do a better job of presenting their campaign platforms to voters than their aides.

Earlier this week, former Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian, who heads the electoral list of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), challenged Pashinian to a separate one-on-one TV debate. Pashinian, whose My Step alliance is the election favorite, dismissed the offer, insisting on a debate involving all 11 contenders.

Sargsian said he too supports such a broad-based debate but believes that he and Pashinian must also face each other separately because the HHK is the main target of the premier’s harsh verbal attacks launched on the campaign trail. Pashinian denied resorting to anti-HHK “hate speech.”

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