SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – Salvadoran political party Nuevas Ideas chose President Nayib Bukele on Sunday as its candidate for the presidential elections of early 2024, even though the country’s constitution does not allow consecutive terms for the presidency.
Bukele, whose first term began in 2019, said in September last year he would seek re-election despite the ban on consecutive terms. In 2021, the country’s highest court – whose members were appointed by a Nuevas Ideas-controlled Congress – ruled Bukele could seek a second term.
The court’s decision was criticized by rights groups as well as the United States, which labeled it part of the decline in El Salvador’s democratic norms.
The president – favored in the 2024 election by nearly 70% of Salvadorans – and his Vice President Felix Ulloa still need to register as candidates with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to formalize their candidacy. Their ticket was the only one put up during the Nuevas Ideas party’s internal elections.
Bukele, a 41-year-old businessman turned politician, took office in June 2019 after sweeping the presidential elections and breaking 30 years of bipartisanship between the right-wing ARENA and left-wing FMLN, his former party.
His “war” against gangs in El Salvador has led to more than 66,000 people being imprisoned and earned Bukele unprecedented popularity. But it has also brought accusations from NGOs of alleged human rights violations and negotiating with criminals.
Bukele has denied the allegations but undercover negotiations with gangs have not been unusual in El Salvador. In May, former President Mauricio Funes was sentenced in absentia to 14 years in prison for negotiating with gangs.
Salvadorans will vote on Feb. 4 next year to elect a president and vice president for the 2024-2029 term and legislators until 2027.
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Anna-Catherine Brigida; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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