President of the Republic of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade on January 26, sources in the central government told News18 on Sunday, days after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his visit to India. Sources confirmed that Santokhi, who is of Indian origin, will be attending the Rajpath parade.
Earlier this week, Santokhi was the chief guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, held by the Ministry of External Affairs and he delivered the keynote address.
India had initially invited Boris Johnson to be the chief guest but the British PM had to cancel his visit in view of the grim coronavirus situation back home.
Santokhi was sworn in as the president of Suriname in July, 2020, when his party, the Progressive Reform Party, won 20 of the 51 seats in the elections. His win also brought an end to the dictatorial rule by Dési Bouterse. The PRP, known in the Dutch language as Vooruitstrevende Hervormingspartij or VHP by its initials, largely represents the Indian community and had originally been called the United Hindustani Party.
Suriname is a former Dutch colony where people of Indian descent make up the largest ethnic group comprising 27.4 per cent of the population of 587,000.