Dec 12, Nairobi: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa were guests at the 50th Independence Day celebrations held this morning at the Moi International Sports Complex (MISC) in Kasarani on the outskirts of Nairobi.
The President, who arrived in Nairobi from Pretoria last night after participating in the memorial services for the former South African president late Nelson Mandela, is in Kenya on a four-day official visit.
The Independence Day festivities began at midnight on Thursday at Uhuru Gardens as Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta hoisted the flag and planted a commemorative tree.
Kenya gained independence from the British Dec. 12, 1963. The current Kenyan President's Father, Jomo Kenyatta, who was imprisoned by the British for 10 years for his struggle for freedom, became the country's first president.
President Rajapaksa and the First Lady joined a number of other African leaders for the celebrations, including the President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Malawi Joyce Banda, President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, President of Congo Joseph Kabila and the President of Eritrea Isaias Afewerki.
During the President's visit, he is scheduled to hold hold bilateral talks with his Kenyan counterpart at the State House on Saturday (Dec. 14). Sri Lanka and Kenya are expected to sign a number of agreements in sectors such as trade, tourism and cultural cooperation, among others.
President Rajapaksa is also scheduled to visit the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), the U.N headquarters in Africa. It is the second largest United Nations complex outside of New York.
During this meeting, the President will hold discussions with the UNON Director General Mrs. Sahle-Work Zewde and the heads of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and UN-Habitat based in Kenya.
President Rajapaksa will also attend the Sri Lanka Business Forum, meet with the Kenyan business community and attend the 10th anniversary celebration of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
Among the other events in which President Rajapaksa will participate include attending a state banquet hosted by President Kenyatta in honor of President Rajapaksa and the First Lady, laying a wreath at the Mausoleum of Late President Jomo Kenyatta and visiting the Nairobi Buddhist Temple.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris and Deputy Minister of Civil Aviation Geethanjana Gunawardena accompanied the President to the event.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)