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  • El Salvador President Nayib Bukele warned that the constituional order might be broken if lawmakers don't meet on Sunday.

    El Salvador President Nayib Bukele warned that the constituional order might be broken if lawmakers don't meet on Sunday. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 February 2020
Opinion

On Friday the legislature rejected the ultimatum with 63 votes in favor, three against and one abstention approving the arguments against the invocation of Article 167. 

El Salvador might face a constitutional crisis under President Nayib Bukele, as the head of state has threatened Parliament if lawmakers don’t gather Sunday for an extraordinary session in order to approve a US$109 million loan. 

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“They are constitutionally required to attend the extraordinary session,” Bukele tweeted Friday citing article 167 of the Constitution, which can be used by the executive to call for an extraordinary session.

But according to the Parliament’s Speaker Mario Ponce “only for disasters or national emergencies due to natural disaster or invasion of the country.”

Ponce rejected that the country suffers a "catastrophe situation" that justifies this urgent call to lawmakers, who demand greater transparency on the use of the US$109 million requested by the Executive for the third phase of the security Territorial Control program backed by the United States.

It is for this reason that on Friday the legislature rejected the ultimatum with 63 votes in favor, three against and one abstention approving the arguments against the invocation of Article 167. 

"The Legislative Plenary approves the report that is sent to the Council of Ministers that establishes that there are no material conditions that justify the extraordinary call...therefore declare that it is inadmissible," it reads on a statement issued by Parliament.

The president may be getting himself into his first constitutional crisis. 

The Assembly must be up to par: assess whether the interests of the Republic demand the call and, if not, question its constitutionality and let the Constitutional Court have it say.

However, Bukele did not back down and threatened that if lawmakers don’t gather on Sunday at 09:00 am local time, “it is understood that they have decided to break the constitutional order with the subsequent consequences derived from said violation,” warning that article 87 will be enacted. 

According to the article, “the right of the people to insurrection is recognized, for the sole purpose of restoring the altered constitutional order." Many fear this could lead to the dissolution of the opposition-led legislative body.

Attorney and lawmaker Rene Portillo Cuadra of conservative party Arena said that the president is being poorly advised and said that the population does not need insurrection but employment and water. 

"If we do not come on Sunday, there is no penalty or legal issue, rather, I think we’ve got Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to meet as many times as necessary, as the real issues in the country are others, not talking about insurrections," he added. 

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