After US President Donald Trump turned down India’s invitation to the 2019 Republic Day event, sources say that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been invited to grace the occasion.
According to The Indian Express, Ramaphosa, who became South Africa’s President in February this year, has accepted the invitation.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa likely to be the chief guest at the Republic Day event next year: Sources (file pic) pic.twitter.com/XqSIsxydKS— ANI (@ANI) November 15, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Ramaphosa on the sidelines of BRICS summit in June. The South African President, who is reportedly a Gandhi follower, led a 5,000-odd people at the annual ‘Gandhi Walk’ at Lenasia in Johannesburg. That was the first time that a sitting head of the state joined the walk. Ramaphosa served as the Deputy President of South Africa from 2014 to 2018.
The report said that the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which celebrates Gandhi’s return from South Africa, has been shifted to the second half of January to coincide with the Republic Day celebrations.
When Ramaphosa took over the reins of his country, he pledged for an economic and political turnaround and appealed to the citizens that the country was entering a new dawn and promised to turn the tide on corruption, according to media reports.
According to reports, US president's 'domestic commitments', including his State of the Union address, around that time were the main reason for denying the invitation. US Ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster had said that Donald Trump declining India's invitation to be the chief guest at 2019 Republic Day celebrations was completely a scheduling issue.
India had officially sent the Republic Day invite to the US president in April this year. The US authorities had confirmed receiving the invite, but said the final decision would be taken after the inaugural 2+2 dialogue in September. The foreign ministry has not given a statement.