El Salvador court drops ban on presidential reelection

By / Agencies

El Salvador’s top court has ruled that presidents can serve two consecutive terms, paving the way for leader Nayib Bukele to seek re-election in 2024.

The judges behind the decision were appointed in May after the National Assembly, dominated by the president’s party, sacked the previous justices.

The Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber on Friday told the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to permit a second term, and the electoral authority announced on Saturday it would accept what it called a ruling that cannot be appealed.

The 40-year-old president was elected in February 2019 on a promise to tackle rampant gang violence and political corruption, and remains hugely popular in the impoverished Central American nation.

Anabel Belloso, a National Assembly member for the opposition Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), said the State ceased to be at the service of the people and passed to be at the service of one person».

José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, condemned the ruling, saying El Salvador was heading down a path taken by Nicaragua and Honduras in allowing presidents to be re-elected.

«Democracy in El Salvador is on the edge of the abyss,» said Mr Vivanco, a critic of President Bukele.

The president has drawn rebukes from Washington for his constitutional changes and curbs on his critics in the media.

Opponents accuse him of undermining El Salvador’s separation of power and its system of checks and balances.

His New Ideas party won a congressional majority in February and, months later, replaced five Supreme Court judges and the independent attorney general.

Last year, the president sent the military into the country’s parliament during a vote on the security budget, which opponents said was a deliberate attempt at intimidation.

Meanwhile, the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), said the effort to maintain and concentrate power “is the precursor to a dictatorship. Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Worth to mention is that ARENA and FMLN were in power for the last 35 years prior to Bukele’s win in 2019, during that period their presidents stole more than $4 billion dollars from public funds, two has been accused and arrested while two others have escaped the country and are hiding in Nicaragua and France.