By Prarthana Mitra
Putting an end to speculation surrounding India’s Republic Day celebrations for 2019, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that he had accepted the invitation to be the chief guest at the parade, according to the Indian Express.
Whom does he replace?
This comes after preparations suffered an embarrassing setback last month, as US President Donald Trump turned down Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation citing scheduling constraints.
“President Trump was honoured by Prime Minister Modi’s invitation for him to be Chief Guest of India’s Republic Day on January 26, 2019 but is unable to participate due to scheduling constraints,” a White House spokesperson had said when asked about Trump’s decision to decline Modi’s invitation. It is possible that Trump might be addressing both Houses of the US Congress late January, for the annual State of the Union (SOTU).
Several reports had then claimed that following Trump’s refusal, it was unlikely that any other global power would accept the invitation. On the other hand, the choice of Trump as the chief guest drew heavy criticism from the opposition who called the move a failure of democracy. However, Modi clarified that he had invited Trump for a bilateral visit to India during their talks in Washington last year, and extended the invitation for Republic Day which could coincide with said summit.
In 2015, Barack Obama became the first US president to accept the invitation to attend the grand celebration that takes place at Rajpath in New Delhi every year.
South Africa and the Gandhian connect
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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