All set for Mbeki's inauguration

2004-04-27 09:32
Pretoria - Hundreds of invited guests, many in colourful African garb, have started taking their places in the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings by 09:00 on Tuesday for the swearing-in of Thabo Mbeki as South Africa's president.

On the lawns, meanwhile, revellers have started trickling in to partake in the celebrations planned for afterwards to mark the country's tenth year of freedom after the fall of apartheid.

Dozens of South African flags were flying around the venue, with the dresses and elaborate headgear of many of the guests helping to transform the normally drab grey buildings into a feast of colour.

Guests were provided with blankets to keep out the morning cold, while a choir also did its best to warm things up.

The Union Buildings have been abuzz with excitement since 04:00 when the first guests and journalists were bused in for the day's festivities - being held at an estimated cost of R90m to the government.

Some 40 000 people were expected to attend the celebrations - not including an estimated 6 000 invited guests. Some 40 presidents and royals, ten prime ministers and 43 ministerial delegations from all over the world have been billed to attend. Representatives of foreign delegations started arriving shortly before 09:00.

Drummers and a brass band were set to entertain the crowds from 09:00, followed by Mbeki's induction for a second term in office from 10:20.

Mbeki was to address the nation at 10:45 after taking the national salute. This would be followed by a military parade and special performances to congratulate the president and hail South Africa's 10th year of freedom, before lunch will be served from 14:00.

A music concert involving some 200 artists will entertain the crowds from 14:00 to 19:00. The day's events will culminate in a cocktail function and special concert at the State Theatre in the evening.

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