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El Salvador President Bukele seeking re-election, despite being constitutional ban

"Developed countries have re-election," Bukele said

September 16, 2022 5:24am

Updated: September 16, 2022 8:16am

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said on Thursday that he plans to run for re-election, despite it being prohibited in the Central American country. 

"I'm announcing to the Salvadoran people that I've decided to run as a candidate for president of the republic," Bukele said in an Independence Day speech live-streamed on public television and social media.

Bukele’s presidential term is set to end in 2024. However, El Salvador’s constitution prohibits the country’s presidents from having consecutive terms. 

"Developed countries have re-election," Bukele said. "And thanks to the new configuration of the democratic institution of our country, now El Salvador will too."

Despite being prohibited by law for a president to be re-elected immediately after serving in office, in 2021, El Salvador’s Supreme Court—make up of lawmakers from Bukele’s party—ruled that a second consecutive term was permissible. 

The move was criticized by the United States and other Central American countries, which fear that El Salvador is headed towards a path of authoritarianism. 

On March 27, Bukele declared a state of emergency to temporarily suspend constitutional protections after the country saw a dramatic rise in homicides. Over four days, 89 people were killed, compared to 79 in all of the month of February. 

Under the state of emergency, the government has limited freedom of association, suspended constitutional protections for those being arrested, and phone calls and emails can be intercepted without court orders.

The country also reformed the country’s penal code to increase jail time for gang members and try minors who are alleged gang members to be tried as adults. Furthermore, on April 6, El Salvador’s Congress authorized prison sentences for any media outlets that reproduce gang messages.  

However, many human rights organizations have criticized Bukele’s tactics to deal with the increase in homicides.

“Instead of protecting Salvadorans, this broad state of emergency is a recipe for disaster that puts their rights at risk,” said Human Rights Watch in a statement on Tuesday, asking the president to confront gang violence while respecting human rights.

Similarly, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned these measures, calling his policies repressive in nature and causing serious human rights violations. 

According to a poll carried out by Gallup, 85% of Salvadoreans approve of Bukele’s presidency and 95% approve of his crackdown on insecurity in the country.