Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the inauguration of president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on November 17.
An advance team from the Indian government arrived Monday to prepare for Modi’s first official visit, The Wire reported, noting that the trip has not been officially confirmed yet.
The Maldives is the only South Asian country Modi has not visited since assuming office. In March 2015, the country was dropped from Modi’s Indian Ocean tour following the arrest and prosecution of former president Mohamed Nasheed.
India-Maldives relations were strained under the outgoing administration of President Abdulla Yameen – who forged a partnership with regional rival China – and nosedived after New Delhi expressed “deep dismay” about a state of emergency in February.
During the campaign, Solih pledged to repair relations with neighbours and traditional allies.
The swearing-in ceremony is due to take place at the national stadium in Malé.
According to the constitution, the incoming president and vice president must take the oath of office “before the Chief Justice or his designate, at a sitting of the People’s Majlis.”
Previous ceremonies were held at the Dharubaaruge convention centre but Solih wanted as many people as possible to be able to witness the historic event.
But plans to keep it open to the public has been scrapped, the committee coordinating with parliament to organise the ceremony told the press earlier this week.
This was due to security concerns as several foreign dignitaries are expected to attend, according to Hassan Latheef, chairman of the Maldivian Democratic Party.
“We have a very big list of people we have to invite,” he added.
The seating capacity of the stadium is 11,500.
On Tuesday, the MDP vice president announced plans to hold a sports festival in the capital on the two days after the inauguration. About 5,000 people are expected to participate whilst 17 sports associations and 15 NGOs will be involved, he said.