Salvadoran president declares emergency without approval from Congress

WION Web Team
San Salvador, El Salvador Published: May 17, 2020, 11:37 PM(IST)

Coronavirus in El Salvador Photograph:( AFP )

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Bukele's administration, however, maintains that a civil protection law authorises the president to declare a state of emergency if congress cannot hold a session.

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency to extend coronavirus measures without a prior approval by the Congress, sparking a controversy, on Saturday.

Congress approved an emergency declaration in March to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but after an extension in April, the measure was due to expire on Sunday. Lawmakers planned to discuss an extension when they reconvened on Monday.

To this end, Salvadoran lawmakers and prosecutors on Sunday vowed to challenge the decree, which they said had overstepped Bukele's powers.

Bukele's administration, however, maintains that a civil protection law authorises the president to declare a state of emergency if congress cannot hold a session.

They contend that the risk of the coronavirus spreading further in El Salvador justifies the measures. 

The emergency declaration, which will remain in force over the next 30 days, extends the suspension of classes, restrictions on movement in areas affected by the pandemic and bans on gatherings of large groups. It also authorises additional government spending during the emergency.

Lawmakers and civil society groups urged an investigation to determine whether Bukele had exceeded his powers.

The country has 1,338 confirmed cases of the virus and 27 deaths.

This is not the first time the brash 38-year-old leader has angered rights groups, who say he has shown authoritarian tendencies. In February, Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons briefly occupied Congress. Last month, he released startling photos of hundreds of jailed gang members stripped to underwear and pressed together in formation, horrifying advocates.

(with inputs)

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