29 Heads of State to attend inauguration

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pretoria - A total 29 Heads-of-State have confirmed their attendance at the inauguration of President-elect Jacob Zuma.

The ceremony will take place at the Union Buildings on Saturday morning. The formal proceedings of the event will start at 11am and will include a flypast as well as a 12 gun salute and entertainment for the crowds.

"We stand at 29 countries that will be represented by [their] Heads of State," said Director General in the Department of Foreign Affairs Ayanda Ntsaluba on Thursday.

Seven deputy presidents will attend the ceremony, while 56 countries will be represented by special envoys, the bulk of which will comprise foreign ministers and speakers of parliament.

"We are happy at getting confirmation of about 100 delegates. We are extremely excited about the level of participation [we are getting]," said Mr Ntsaluba.

He, however, would not be drawn on who exactly was on the list of confirmed Heads of State. "We are still at a point where we're anxious to give names," he said.

More than 5000 guests have been invited to witness the occasion, while 30 000 people are expected to gather at the south lawns of the Union Buildings.

He added that the inauguration ceremony was a culmination of the positive mood generated in the country by the success of the April 22 polls. "We are trying everything possible to ensure that the positive mood prevails," said Mr Ntsaluba.

He added that this was a moment for celebration as well as expressing the country's gratitude for its international friends.