Ten-day special programmes to celebrate the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman begin today with Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih first foreign dignitary to arrive here to join the celebrations.
The celebrations are set to begin at the National Parade Ground in the capital in the afternoon.The Maldives President will join the inaugural event of the celebrations along with President Md Abdul Hamid. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will preside over the opening ceremony.
Dhaka is all set to roll red carpet and welcome the heads of state and government of five South Asian countries who start arriving in Bangladesh today to join the celebrations.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering have confirmed their joining.
As per the programme schedule, the Maldives President is due to land at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 8:20am today on a two-day official visit as the first South Asian leaders to attend the celebrations.
On his arrival, President Abdul Hamid will receive him at the airport.
The Maldives President will be given a guard of honour by a smartly turn-out contingent of the Armed Forces drawn from the three services. Twenty-one gun salutes will be heralded on the air. First Lady Fazna Ahmed will accompany the Maldives President.Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will lead a 27-member delegation, including Maldives Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid and Economic Development Minister Fayyaz Ismail, according to the Foreign Ministry.
After the airport ceremony is over, President Solih will go to the National Mausoleum in Savar to pay tribute to the martyrs of the Liberation War. From Savar, he will move to Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi and place a wreath at the portrait of Bangabandhu.
In the afternoon, he and Abdul Hamid will join the inaugural event of the celebrations at the National Parade Ground. The programme will be addressed by the two Presidents while recorded messages of three foreign dignitaries will be played with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The programme will be followed by a musical soiree.
On Thursday morning, the Maldives President will hold an exclusive meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Prime Minister’s Office. In the evening, President Abdul Hamid will host a state banquet in his honour at Bangabhaban.
Ending his two-day visit, the Maldives President will depart Dhaka at 1am on Friday when Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen will see him off at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
After the Maldives President, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will arrive in Dhaka on a two-day visit from March 19. He will lead a 28-member high-level delegation, including Sri Lankan education minister, state minister for regional cooperation, state minister for textile, rural housing and house building.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will welcome Rajapaksa at the airport and he will be given a guard of honour and 21 gun salutes. He will then pay respect to the martyrs of the Liberation War at the National Mausoleum in Savar and join the celebrations at the National Parade Ground as a guest of honour. In the evening, Rajapaksa will attend the dinner to be hosted by the Prime Minister.
On March 20, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister will visit Bangabandhu Memorial Museum and pay homage to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing a wreath there. He will then hold a bilateral meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
The issues of trade and investment, agriculture, coastal shipping, education and IT will be discussed in the meeting.
Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari will arrive in Dhaka on a two-day official visit starting from March 22. Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and other high government officials will accompany her.
She will also visit the National Mausoleum on the day and in the afternoon she will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Momen before attending the celebrations at the National Parade Ground. Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid will host a banquet in her honour at Bangabhaban on March 22.
On March 23, Bidya Devi Bhandari will visit Bangabandhu Memorial Museum before leaving Dhaka for Kathmandu. Several deals in the areas of tourism, cultural cooperation, trade and commerce are expected to be signed.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering will arrive in Dhaka on a two-day visit on March 24. Besides attending the celebrations of the golden jubilee of independence and Mujib Barsho, he will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and call on President Abdul Hamid.
Most important dignitary Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Dhaka on March 26 on a two-day high-profile visit to attend the celebrations of the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence, Mujib Barsho and the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between the two next-door neighbours.
On March 26, he will pay respect to the martyrs of the country's Liberation War at the National Mausoleum in Savar. He will deliver a speech at the National Parade Ground as a guest of honour. The same day evening, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will inaugurate Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition.
In the morning of March 27, Modi will pay homage to the memory of Bangabandhu at the Bangabandhu Memorial at Tungipara in Gopalganj.
Besides, he will visit two temples -- one in Satkhira and the other in Gopalganj -- and briefly exchange views with the locals. He will meet the representatives of Matua community in Orakanda in Kashiani.
On March 27 afternoon, the two Prime Ministers will hold a bilateral meeting. They will also inaugurate two memorial stamps and visit Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition.
Modi will also pay a courtesy call on President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban before leaving Dhaka for New Delhi in the evening.