Foreign envoys surprised after El Salvador's Bukele puts "private" meeting on TV

by Reuters
Wednesday, 5 May 2021 18:51 GMT

By Nelson Renteria

SAN SALVADOR, May 5 (Reuters) - Foreign diplomats in El Salvador have criticised President Nayib Bukele for broadcasting on national television their purportedly private meeting with him, saying the broadcast came as a surprise.

Bukele held the talks with a group of envoys on Monday after his party at the weekend ousted the country's top prosecutor and all the key judges who sit on the Supreme Court's constitutional chamber. The removal of the officials had drawn sharp rebukes from Washington, the European Union and rights groups.

"I regret to report that President Bukele's national broadcast of a meeting held yesterday is not compatible with previous agreements that it was to be press-free and private," Chile's ambassador Renato Sepulveda said on Twitter late on Tuesday.

In the footage of the meeting, held in the Presidential House in the capital San Salvador, Bukele can be seen reading from his cellphone key articles of the country's constitution and complaining about international criticism.

He also said he was disappointed that the meeting was not attended by charge d'affaires of the United States embassy, ​​Brendan O'Brien.

The President's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Washington has been critical of Bukele's move against the judges, who were a check on the president's power after he tightened his control of Congress during mid-term elections in February.

France's envoy, Francois Bonet, commented on Sepulveda's Twitter post to say the broadcast was also a "surprise" to him.

"Thanks President @nayibbukele for putting on national television a private meeting which we had yesterday," added the European Union Ambassador Andreu Bassols on Twitter.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.