El Salvador’s very popular President Nayib Bukele left his post on Thursday, November 30, replaced six months before the end of his mandate and authorized by Parliament to launch his campaign to be re-elected in the February 2024 vote.

The leader and his vice-president, Felix Ulloa, received the favorable votes of 67 government deputies to be authorized to begin their campaign, while 12 other elected officials voted against. His proposal to be replaced in power on Friday by presidential secretary Claudia Juana Rodriguez de Guevara was immediately approved, 67 votes to 11. The 42-year-old former mayor will thus be the first president of El Salvador.

Mr. Bukele was authorized in September 2021 by the Supreme Court of Justice to represent himself thanks to an interpretation of the Constitution which generated controversy in the ranks of the opposition.

During the parliamentary session, many government deputies praised their young president, who enjoys immense support from the population thanks to his declared war, in March 2022, on the gangs who sowed terror in this small country in Central America.

73,000 people in prison

Authorities have since jailed more than 73,000 suspected gang members under a state of emergency widely criticized by rights groups. Some 7,000 innocent people were released.

While elected officials debated the validity of the authorization given to Mr. Bukele to run again, he carried out the last official act of his mandate: the laying of the first stone of the future National Stadium on the outskirts of the capital, San Salvador. A $100 million gift from China.

A skilled communicator with a strong presence on social networks, willingly abandoning suits for a casual look, Nayib Bukele led a mandate far from the traditional codes of politics. Opponents, such as Vamos (right) party MP Claudia Ortiz, however, believe that his re-election would be “unconstitutional”.