The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress (PNC) coalition have said that they now believe Vice President Faisal Naseem is the president, and as such, they have no official response to the presidential address delivered by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Monday.
Before President Solih began delivering his presidential address at the first session of parliament for this year, opposition parliamentarians protested inside the parliament chambers and attempted to disrupt the sitting. Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed even announced the names of some of the opposition members, and they were removed from the parliament by security officers. President Solih gave his address after they were removed.
Speaking at a press conference after the incidents yesterday, PPM's Vice President and Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam said that the presidential statement was delivered by "a person claiming to be the President."
He was referring to the time when President Solih temporarily handed over his duties to Vice President Faisal Naseem to undergo surgery late on February 25, 2022. Just three hours later, on the same day, the President resumed official duties.
However, MP Shiyam went on to say that they do not know that President Solih had reclaimed office after "handing over the title" to Vice President Faisal.
"The Constitution says that a presidential address has to be delivered by the person who is the Head of State. Former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's statement at the parliament today is unconstitutional," Shiyam, who stood in front of the president in protest when he started delivering his address, said.
The opposition coalition's leader, PNC President Abdul Raheem Abdulla, echoed similar sentiments about the incumbent president and maintained that Solih is not a legitimate leader. He said there was no situation where a Vice President should take an oath to perform his duties and that the presidential oath should only be taken when the post is vacant.
"From the time he was sworn in that day, this term has to be completed by Faisal Naseem. That's what we believe. So we don't want to listen to the address given by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih today, or respond to it. We don't believe it is something we have to do," Abdul Raheem said.
The opposition leader claimed that President Solih had not been sworn in again as president, and therefore, the opposition believes Faisal is now the president.
"The Constitution also says that the opposition leader has to respond to the presidential address made by the President. We blocked this [President Solih delivering his statement], as the address was given in clear violation of the constitution, and our members expressed their opinion because it is their constitutional right," Abdul Raheem said.
The opposition's parliamentary group leader and Eydhafushi MP Ahmed Saleem also said that he does not believe that Solih is the President, and that he will not respond to the presidential address either.
The Constitution says that if the President is incapable of discharging his duties and responsibilities temporarily, he must give his reasons and inform the Parliament Speaker in writing. The Vice President has to be entrusted with the responsibilities and duties of the President.
In such a situation, the Constitution states that the President shall only be allowed to resume his duties after giving written notice to the Parliament Speaker.