Conservative El Salvador lawmakers question president Bukele's sanity

Oscar BATRES
·1-min read
Soldiers from El Salvador's military entered Congress in the capital San Salvador on February 9, 2020

Conservative opposition lawmakers in El Salvador on Tuesday called for a Congressional committee to declare President Nayib Bukele "mentally incapable" of governing the country.

The call comes one year after Bukele, from the center-right GANA party, ordered soldiers to storm Congress in an attempt to force lawmakers to approve a loan to finance an anti-crime plan.

It also comes ahead of February 28 legislative elections in which Bukele supporters are expected to make strong gains.

Ricardo Velasquez of the right-wing ARENA party invoked an article of the constitution that allows Congress to declare the president mentally unfit to govern.

On Twitter, Bukele slammed the move as "an attempted parliamentary coup" by lawmakers likely to soon be voted out of office.

In his request Velasquez mentioned several examples of the president's "mental incapacity," including his use of rhetoric "of hatred, intolerance, aggression."

At least two-thirds of the chamber of deputies would have to agree to the measure. Opposition leftists from the FMLN party could join the ARENA lawmakers to gain enough votes.

In case the committee greenlights the petition, the final word on Bukele's mental condition would fall on five doctors named by Congress.

Velasquez, a fierce Bukele opponent, says the president "feels that he is above the law."

On Tuesday, demonstrators -- including students, union members, and women's rights and environmental groups -- marked the anniversary of the storming of Congress by demanding that the president never use armed threats against lawmakers.

"The military must never set foot in the legislative assembly again, Bukele must never again imagine making an attempted coup, because we young people will not allow it," a student at the demo with his face covered by a black scarf told reporters.

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