As only 28 legislators showed up Sunday, the Speaker of the Legislative body Mario Ponce summoned the parliamentarians to officially convene on Monday at 12:00 local time.
As tension between El Salvador’s Executive and Legislative powers boil up, President Nayib Bukele ordered military personnel to stand guard around Congress’ building in the capital city San Salvador.
This comes as lawmakers decided to not meet on Sunday at 09:00 am local time for an extraordinary session in order to vote to approve a US$109 million loan for the third phase of the United States-backed Security Territorial Control program.
As only 28 legislators of the 43 needed to have quorum attended, the Speaker of the Legislative body Mario Ponce summoned the parliamentarians to officially convene on Monday at 12:00 pm local time.
However, Bukele stuck to his threat and enacted article 87 - the right for insurrection -, arguing that the constitutional order was broken since lawmakers didn’t follow his orders. The president then called for popular "insurrection" summoning a "citizen concentration" for Sunday afternoon, in order to pressure lawmakers to approve the loan.
A stage was also erected by staff from the Ministry of Defense across from Congress. Many fear these transgressions could lead to the dissolution of the opposition-led legislative body.
En la entrada de la @AsambleaSV hay presencia de soldados de la @FUERZARMADASV apostados y están preparando una tarima previo a convocatoria que ha hecho el presidente @nayibbukele para plenaria extraordinaria de mañana domingo. Fotos: E. Velásquez.— elsalvador.com (@elsalvadorcom) February 8, 2020
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Bukele’s argument is based on Article 167 of the Constitution, which can be used by the executive to call for an extraordinary session. But according to Ponce “only for disasters or national emergencies due to natural disaster or invasion of the country.”
The Legislature’s speaker 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.
It is for this reason that on Friday lawmakers rejected the ultimatum with 63 votes in favor, three against and one abstention approving the arguments against the invocation of Article 167.
Even El Salvador's chapter of the Iberoamerican Institute of Constitutional Law warned of such impasse and ultimatum pushed by the president, saying that there are no " exceptional" circumstances that merit this process.