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El Salvador: Supreme Court Halts Bukele’s Coup Attempt

  • Military seize the Legislative Palace in San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb. 9, 2020.

    Military seize the Legislative Palace in San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb. 9, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 February 2020

The militarization of the Legislative Assembly was condemned by Salvadoran deputies unanimously.

El Salvador’s Council of Ministers announced Tuesday that it will abide by the resolution of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) that prevents President Nayib Bukele from using the Army and the Police to convene an extraordinary session in the Legislative Assembly.


El Salvador Top Court Admits Unconstitutionality Claim Against President

"We will abide by the order although we do not share what the Constitutional Chamber resolved," the Council said and urged the judges' final ruling to take into account the country's security interests.

Although the Council of Ministers insisted that the Executive Branch has been "respectful at all times" of the separation of powers, Bukele kept the Legislative Assembly militarized for 30 hours.

Backed by security forces, he entered Congress on Sunday to start an extraordinary session in which he expected lawmakers to approve a loan for US$109 million to finance his security plan.

Sitting in the chair used by the Assembly president, he tried to start a session that could not be installed since only 20 of the 84 lawmakers participated in this unusual event.​​​​​​​

"Political crisis in El Salvador. The Assembly's security lost control of the facilities and the Army seized the Legislative Parliament. This happened after President Nayib Bukele called 'insurrection' and caused a crisis between the two powers of the State."

​​​​​​​Previously, on Feb. 7, the Salvadoran president summoned citizens to appear in Congress to demand the approval of a loan that the Finance Commission did not endorse because the Executive has not explained in what the money will be spent.

On Monday, the Supreme Court admitted a lawsuit for unconstitutional behavior against the Bukele administration and several precautionary measures, including ordering the Salvadorean president to refrain from using the armed forces to jeopardize the separation of powers.

The Legislative Assembly president Mario Ponce asked that the SCJ rule as soon as possible on the events because nothing can be achieved when someone puts “a gun to your forehead”.

"That is why we ask the Constitutional Chamber to express itself urgently about this coup attempt to the Legislative branch," Ponce said.

Even a fraction of the right-wing ARENA party rejected "the militarization promoted by the president" and called for "to immediately dismantle the self-coup process, the ultimatum to the Legislative Assembly and the persecution of democratically elected deputies and their families."

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