SPECIAL Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe says President Edgar Lungu will not participate in the Presidential debate as he has not received any official communication from Diamond TV.

And UPND Alliance leader Hakainde Hichilema has apologised for not being able to attend the debate, stating that he is in Mbala and could face police hurdles on his way back which might delay him from being punctual.

In a statement, Wednesday, Chipampe said the Head of State was not officially invited to the debate.

He advised organisations seeking to have the President at their functions to follow the official channels of communication.

“State House has noted an advertisement purportedly circulated by Diamond TV to the effect that His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia, will be among presidential candidates participating in a debate scheduled for 18:00 hours today (Wednesday). Neither the office of the Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations nor that of the Principal Private Secretary has received official communication from Diamond TV. Therefore, President Lungu has not been officially invited to any debate. Thus far and hence would not be attending the debate. State House would therefore like to advise organisations seeking to have the President at their functions to follow official channels of communication,” stated Chipampe.

And in a post on his Facebook page, Hichilema said he would not be on time for the debate.

“Fellow citizens, you know we have never shied away from engaging citizens through debates, press briefings and other forms. We greatly welcome such platforms. For those who may not be aware, in the previous election debates, we had flight permits and were able to briefly suspend our field activities in the afternoon and fly into Lusaka to join the debates, then the following day fly back to continue our programmes. This may not be the case this time around as it is almost humanly impossible to drive all the way from Mbala, Mpulungu, in this terrain, face police hurdles on the way and be in time for debate this evening. We sincerely apologise this time around. All the best to the debaters this evening,” posted Hichilema.

Diamond TV is hosting debates for the presidential candidates contesting in next week’s polls.

Their line up for Wednesday’s debate included; President Lungu, Hichilema, Harry Kalaba and Fred M’Membe.

Others were; Andford Banda, Chishala Kateka and Nevers Mumba.