Screen capture from video of President’s address to the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 24, 2013, New York, posted by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C.

In what would have been an unprecedented engagement with Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his visit to the UN in New York (on-going at the time of writing), the President’s media office announced on 24th September that there would be a Twitter Q&A with the President at 9am on the 25th (6.30pm SL time).

Sadly, the session was a far cry from a similar interaction over Twitter with the President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga a few months ago. The session started late, it wasn’t clear who was responding on behalf of the President or whether the President was even present at the session. It wasn’t clear what questions were answered, and as with Weeratunga’s session, the total questions answered was a minuscule percentage of those that were actually posed.

As the Daily Mirror notes,

Although much was expected from the much publicized twitter Q and A with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his first foray into the realm of direct engagement via digital media, the session proved to be a damper to many, with the President answering questions that were only related the UN sessions and issues therein.

The session which was scheduled to start at 6.30 pm but commenced 90 minutes later saw many enthusiastic locals, foreigners, foreign and local media personnel posing questions that were both controversial in nature and otherwise.

There was no initial boundary to the questions that were to be posed; however, the twitter feed of the President requested the followers to confine their questions to the current United Nations session.

Thereafter, presidential secretary Lalith Weerathunge informed the followers that he would be moderating the session, but did not answer a question posed on his role at the twitter session with no clear indication given as to who was answering the questions posed.

A live search of #AskMR is embedded below, which includes questions leading up to the live session on Wednesday.

Top Tweeters

As with the session featuring Lalith Weeratunga, Groundviews emerged, by far, as the most engaged with the Twitter Q&A. What’s heartening to note is that mainstream media is increasingly engaging with these initiatives.

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At the time of writing, a few hours after the session ended, there were over 1,500 tweets tagged with #AskMR, the majority of which were published just before or during the session.

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A fully searchable, interactive and complete archive of the #AskMR session can be accessed here.

Twitter user @gopiharan created this bundle of tweets someone (something?!) answered during the #AskMR Q&A session.