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President Nayib Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons briefly occupied El Salvadors Congress on Sunday, stepping up a pressure campaign to force lawmakers to back a crime-fighting plan.

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Watched by soldiers in full battle uniform, Bukele, 38, sat in the seat reserved for the president of Congress and cupped his hands together to pray, he said, for patience with lawmakers, few of whom turned up at the special session.

“If those shameless people dont approve the plan of territorial control, well summon you here again (next) Sunday,” he told supporters in a fiery speech outside, as he left the building.

Lawmakers were due to meet on Monday to discuss the presidents proposals, Congress president Mario Ponce said, in a possible sign of de-escalation.

Critics warned of a looming constitutional crisis, however. Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based group, called the event “an exhibition of brute force” and said the Organization of American States should urgently meet to discuss the situation.

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Bukele won office last year after a savvy social media campaign feeding off popular discontent with two parties that had ruled the Central American country since the end of a civil war.

Channeling that same frustration with traditional parties, he attacked Congress for foot-dragging over approval of a $109 million multi-lateral loan he has sought to equip police and soldiers to fight crime.

His cabinet called Sundays special session after Bukele said on Friday that Salvadorans had a legal right to insurrection in such situations, calling for protests and briefly removing lawmakers security protection details.

The presidents move to pressure lawmakers was backed by defense minister René Merino Monroy and police director Mauricio Arriaza Chicas.

However, El Salvadoran think-tank FUSADES said there were no grounds for the executive branch to call such a session, since Congress was functioning normally.

On Sunday, hundreds of Salvadorans responded to Bukeles call to demonstrate, waving banners and blowing whistles outside CongrRead More – Source

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