Dignitaries stream in to SA

2004-04-26 19:38
Pretoria - Nearly 80 foreign dignitaries had arrived in South Africa by 16:30 on Monday for Tuesday's inauguration of President-elect Thabo Mbeki at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

They included at least 10 presidents, six vice-presidents, one prime minister, two royals and numerous cabinet ministers and special envoys from across the globe, said the foreign affairs department.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe had been among the first to arrive, touching down at Waterkloof air force base in Pretoria on Sunday.

The Zimbabwean embassy denied media reports that Mugabe was staying in a guesthouse in Pretoria after two five-star hotels refused to accommodate him.

Other presidents to arrive in South Africa were from Gambia, Chile, Dominica, Algeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Uruguay. There was also the prime minister of Mauritius, and the governors-general of the Solomon Islands, and St Vincent and Grenadines.

Envoys from soccer body Fifa

Belgium would be represented by Princess Astrid and Lesotho by King Letsie III.

The United States sent its secretary of housing and urban development Alphonso Jackson, and the United Kingdom its deputy prime minister John Prescott.

Other countries' whose representatives had arrived by noon were Brazil, Finland, Mexico, China, Panama, the Seychelles, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, Poland, Sudan, Yemen, Switzerland and Oman.

By 16:30, representatives had also arrived from Bulgaria, the Comoros, the Cook Islands, India, Iran, Peru, Thailand, the Czech Republic, Japan, Angola, Australia, the Bahamas, Benin, Brunei, Canada, Cuba, Eritrea, Germany, the Holy See, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Libya, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Tunisia, and Vietnam.

There were also envoys from Fifa, the world soccer governing body, chairman of the commission of the African Union Alpha Oumar Konare, Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon and Pan African parliament president Gertrude Mongella.

The inauguration is due to kick off with entertainment from 06:00, followed by the induction about 10:30, and culminating in a music concert continuing until 19:00.

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