The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has decided to boycott President Abdulla Yameen’s annual state of the nation address at the official opening of parliament for a second consecutive year.
The MDP’s parliamentary group made the decision at a meeting held in Colombo, where the party’s leadership travelled en masse last week to meet with exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed.
MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, the MDP’s spokesman, told the Maldives Independent that listening to Yameen’s speech is “unnecessary” as the state of the nation has worsened since he delivered last year’s presidential address.
“The country’s situation, economically and financially, has deteriorated and is detrimental to the people and the state. So it is not important for the public to go and listen to Yameen’s lowly and vulgar talk,” he said.
Imthiyaz went on to accuse Yameen’s administration of flouting the constitution and infringing on basic rights.
The president is mandated by the constitution to address the People’s Majlis at the beginning of the year’s first session, where he “may present proposals for improving the state of the country.”
The first session of parliament for 2017 will proceed from February to March. Regular sittings are expected to begin later this week.
The MDP’s parliamentary group leader, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, told newspaper Mihaaru that the minority party – which holds 21 seats – is denied the opportunity to hold the government accountable. The speaker refuses to table questions posed to ministers in the agenda, he said.
Some ruling party lawmakers have meanwhile welcomed news of the boycott. “Will be a day of peace. Alhamdhulillah!” tweeted MP Abdulla Khaleel.
The presidential address is due to be delivered Monday morning at the Dharubaaruge convention centre.
Opposition lawmakers also boycotted last year’s inaugural session in protest against a controversial change of venue from the parliament building to the multi-purpose hall at Dharubaaruge.
The move came after opposition MPs disrupted Yameen’s 2015 address with protests inside the parliament chamber in the wake of Nasheed’s controversial arrest.