El Salvador calls emergency talks on military loan after soldiers occupy parliament | News | DW | 10.02.2020
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El Salvador calls emergency talks on military loan after soldiers occupy parliament

President Bukele and troops entered parliament on Sunday to demand a loan to better equip the military and police. But the opposition party, FMLN, remain skeptical and have described his actions as those of a dictator.

Lawmakers in El Salvador were set to meet Monday to discuss President Nayib Bukele's proposals for a $109 million loan to better equip the country's security forces in their efforts to combat crime.

This comes after Sunday's occupation of Congress by Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons, in an attempt to increase pressure on politicians to support his crime-fighting proposals. The move only heightened tensions between the president and the opposition-controlled legislature.

Read more: El Salvador expels Venezuelan diplomats, recognizes Juan Guaido

Just a handful of lawmakers turned up for the special session where soldiers watched on in full battle uniform as Bukele sat in the seat reserved for the president of Congress and brought his hands together to pray.

El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele (picture-alliance/AP/S. Melendez)

President Bukele demonstratively prayed while he occupied the speaker's chair in Congress

"If those shameless people don't approve the plan of territorial control, we'll summon you here again [next] Sunday," he told supporters in a passionate speech shortly after leaving the building.

"If we wanted to press the button, we would press the button" and remove lawmakers from the legislature, he continued. "But I asked God and God told me: patience, patience, patience."

Municipal and legislative elections are due to take place in February next year and Bukele concluded: "On February 28 [2021] all these scoundrels are heading out the door outside."

Read more: In Latin America, women turn to apps to combat sexual violence

Coup accusations

Meanwhile, Mario Ponce, of the conservative National Coalition Party (PCN), accused Bukele of "attempting a coup d'etat" against the legislative assembly, after meeting with fellow political party representatives. 

"We cannot respond to the executive branch with a gun to our head," he said.

Opposition legislators say they want more information regarding the spending plan before being called to a vote. The opposition FMLN party accused Bukele of intimidation and acting like "a dictatorship" for trying to force through the loan proposals.

Bukele's administration says it would use the capital to acquire a helicopter, police cars, uniforms, night vision goggles and a video surveillance system in a country plagued by high crime levels. However, lawmakers refused to sit for an extra session over the weekend to debate the issue. 

Watch video 06:47

Visiting a gang prison in El Salvador

lc, jsi/msh (AFP, epd, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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