In Brief

Armed soldiers force their way into El Salvador parliament

Move comes as president tries to force through loan for troops and police

Armed soldiers and police in El Salvador have stormed parliament, demanding the approval of a $109m (£85m) loan to better equip them.

They forced their way in as President Nayib Bukele demanded that opposition lawmakers vote to approve his plan to secure a $109 million loan that he says would be used to better equip military personnel and law enforcement officers.

Opposition politicians described the appearance of armed men in parliament as an unprecedented act of intimidation. NPR says they accused the president of behaving like a “dictator”.

However, addressing his supporters outside parliament, he vowed to continue his pressure. “If those shameless people don’t approve the plan of territorial control, we’ll summon you here again [next] Sunday,” he said.

Human Rights Watch described the move by security forces as “an exhibition of brute force” and called for a meeting of the Organization of American States.

El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates in the world with gang violence out of control.

According to figures from El Salvador's National Civil Police, the average daily killings in the country fell from 9.2 in May 2019 - the month before Bukele took office - to 3.8 in January 2020.

Bukele had promised to address this issue and the government says that the decreased death count is a direct result of the Territorial Control Plan.

CNN says that Bukele campaigned on slogans criticising those who'd come before him, such as “there's enough money when nobody steals” and “return what was stolen,” referring to funds that allegedly disappeared during the administrations of former presidents Francisco Flores and Antonio Saca.

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