SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — One day after El Salvador’s main opposition parties indicated their willingness to start a process that could oust President Nayib Bukele two weeks before national elections, they quickly reversed course and said they are not really considering invoking the constitutional provision.
The president of El Salvador’s unicameral Legislative Assembly, Mario Ponce of the conservative National Coalition Party, cast the initiative presented Tuesday as an “act of propaganda.”
Ponce said he didn’t think it had a future and was only an attempt to garner media attention.
On Tuesday, Ricardo Velásquez Parker, a deputy with the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena), asked the Legislative Assembly to start the process of removing Bukele for allegedly being mentally unfit to continue in the presidency. He cited Bukele’s attacks on the congress and accused him of sowing division in the country.
But on Wednesday, Carlos Reyes, leader of Arena’s members in the assembly, said that “at this moment the removal of the president is not planned, that must be clear to the Salvadoran people.”
“That is the individual proposal of a deputy,” Reyes said. “Right now what the country needs is stability. We all need to work together.”
It was a strikingly different tone from Tuesday, when the proposal received support from Arena, the Christian Democrat Party and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, which together have enough seats in the assembly to move the initiative forward.
Bukele enjoys high levels of popular support in El Salvador and his New Ideas party is widely expected to dominate legislative and local elections later this month. It could give the 39-year-old president the legislative support he has lacked during his first two years in office.
But it also has raised concerns among some observers that Bukele could more aggressively pursue his enemies. He has faced criticism for his attacks on other democratic institutions, including the Legislative Assembly and Supreme Court.
The president on Tuesday called the opposition’s announcement an “attempted parliamentarian coup d’etat.”
On Wednesday, he continued that line and said “the only thing that’s happening is they’re reversing after seeing the gigantic popular indignation.” He accused the opposition parties of a co-ordinated effort that they were now trying to blame on a single lawmaker.
Marcos Aleman, The Associated Press