Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed have taken part in the official ceremony to mark the 71st Independence Day of Sri Lanka as guest of honor.
This marks the first time for Head of State of a foreign country attend Independence Day celebrations of Sri Lanka as guest of honor.
Sri Lanka gained its independence from British rule on February 4, 1948.
The official ceremony to mark the 71st Independence Day of Sri Lanka took place at the Galle Face Green this Monday morning with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other high-ranking government officials.
High-ranking Maldivian government officials who attended the ceremony, in addition to Maldivian President and First Lady, include Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail, Minister of Education Dr. Aishath Ali, Minister of National Planning and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam and Maldivian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Umar Abdul Razzaq.
The ceremony began with Sirisena hoisting the national flag of Sri Lanka at the Galle Face Green, it followed the national anthem of Sri Lanka, and a 21-gun salute.
In his message to the nation on occasion of Independence Day, Sirisena warned that imperialistic philosophy, rather than colonial rule, was a far greater threat to Sri Lanka in modern times.
“Hence, for future progress, we need people with spirits invigorated by national customs, values and culture,” said Sirisena.
He also singled out poverty and corruption as twin evils preventing Sri Lanka from progress.
“The common enemies of the progress of national revival are poverty and corruption. We must resolve to eradicate these evils completely. All those patriots who sacrificed their lives for the sake of independence of the nation, since the colonial era, are commemorated on this occasion, with honor and dignity. All the servicemen and women dedicated to safeguard the freedom and independence of the nation today are also remembered with gratitude,” he said.
The official ceremony to mark the 71st Independence Day of Sri Lanka has now been concluded. And Solih, along with a delegation of Maldivian business operators who travelled with him to Sri Lanka, are scheduled to take part in a Maldives-Sri Lanka Business Forum later this Monday afternoon.
The official ceremony to welcome Solih on his three-day state visit to Sri Lanka will take place next Tuesday.
Solih and Sirisena are due to hold a one-on-one meeting and launch bilateral talks between the two governments following the ceremony.
Solih will conclude his state visit and return to Maldives on Tuesday night.