RDAY CHIEF GUEST: TOP AFRICAN LEADER SHORTLISTED
India may have finalised its chief guest for the next Republic Day, two people familiar with the matter independently said, and it is most likely someone from Africa, perhaps South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. The announcement will probably be made shortly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, and perhaps on Twitter, one of the people added, asking not to be identified.
This person said there was a shortlist of four India was working on and that President Donald Trump of the US had never been on it, although verbal, informal invites were extended to him .The White House confirmed recently that President Trump would not be making the trip to India for the January 26 Republic Day parade on account of other commitments, but the first person insisted that a formal invite had never been sent to the US leader.
The chief guest will be a leader of global stature and from an important partner country, this person added.
A second person said, also on condition of anonymity, that the idea was to get someone from a region unrepresented in terms of Republic Day chief guests for the past few years.
The chief guests in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 were King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk of Bhutan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, UAE Crown Prince Mohhamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the leaders of the 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations.