South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day next year, according to a report by Indian Express. Ramaphosa became the President in February this year and has reportedly accepted the invitation.
This development comes after US President Donald Trump declined the government of India’s invitation, due to a scheduling conflict, according to the White House.
Citing sources, IE reported that the US President’s State of the Union address would be around the same time, so his administration could not confirm Trump’s availability, especially since the Democrats have a decisive say in fixing the date.
Ramaphosa was Nelson Mandela’s choice for the future SA President and is an avid follower of Gandhi.
Earlier in April, he had spearheaded the annual ‘Gandhi Walk’ in Lenasia, an Indian township south of Johannesburg, seeking to promote community awareness and fitness. This was the first time that a sitting head of the state joined the walk, now in its 33rd consecutive edition.
South Africa is a key player in the BRICS grouping, and is one of the leaders in the African continent, sources stated by IE said. Modi had met Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in June this year.
According to the report, the decision also comes in lieu of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which celebrates Gandhi’s homecoming from South Africa, has been moved from early January to the second half, so as to coincide with the Republic Day celebrations.