With US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration just days away, there has been speculation and several media reports about whether certain world leaders will be attending the ceremony.
In Pakistan, rumours that former president Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had been invited were doing the rounds on social media, while almost all television outlets quoted PPP sources as saying that the father-son duo had been invited and would be attending the inauguration on January 20.
However, setting the rumours to rest, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar told local media that the former president and the PPP chairman “have not been invited to the inauguration, and are not attending the ceremony”.
Similar news reports have also cropped up in other parts of the world.
In India, Congress supporters claimed a few weeks ago that former prime minister Manmohan Singh was invited and would be attending – the news was later denied by Singh himself.
In the US, the media circulated a similar report about Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, forcing him to declare that “I don’t have an invitation, and I have decided not to leave (the country) much” during the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic and the fear of violence has forced the organisers of the 2021 United States presidential inauguration to discourage foreign leaders from attending the ceremony.
Members of the Biden inauguration committee have indicated that they are not inviting foreign leaders to the January 20 ceremony and are also urging Americans to watch it from their homes.
In a recent statement, the committee has said that this year the celebration’s size will be “extremely limited”, while local authorities have asked people not to attend the ceremony.
“Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on January 6,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.
The inauguration marks the start of a new presidency.
Washington’s mayor has placed the capital city under a state of emergency since the attack, following a warning from US intelligence agencies that Trump supporters have planned massive demonstrations across America this weekend.
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