Touching upon the crucial juncture of tradition, law, and the transition of political power – the Attorney General has clarified the specific date on which the president-elect should be sworn into office. 

Since 1968, the handover of the presidential office occurred on 11 November, marked as Republic Day to commemorate the establishment of the country’s second republic. However, this tradition was interrupted in 2013 due to court orders that delayed the presidential election, subsequently pushing the swearing-in to 17 November.

Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath has made it clear that any alteration to the current presidential term—stipulated to last for five years from 17th November—would require a constitutional amendment. Article 107 (a) of the Maldivian constitution specifically states that the term of a president is five years. Riffath emphasised that altering this period would necessitate following the protocol under Article 262, which requires a public referendum.

Outgoing President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who himself was inaugurated on 17th November 2018, has expressed his eagerness to revert the swearing-in date back to 11 November. Solih underlined the historical importance of the day, citing it as the proclamation date of the current republic. He has even signalled his willingness to end his term on 11 November to facilitate the swearing-in of his successor on this significant date, barring any legal hurdles.

If Solih were to step down on 11 November, the vice president would assume presidential duties. Should the vice president also resign, the responsibility would fall on the parliament speaker, followed by the deputy speaker, and finally a parliamentarian appointed through a parliamentary resolution.

The dilemma presents a complex scenario for the Maldivian government. On one hand, there’s a clear legal framework, which, according to the Attorney General, permits no deviations without a constitutional amendment and a subsequent public referendum. On the other hand, there is a compelling argument for aligning the transition of power with a date that holds historical importance for the nation.

Nonetheless, the parliament has announced plans to hold the swearing-in ceremony on 17 November, and the transitional committee of the President-Elect is making preparations to make it a jubilant affair.