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6 Feb, 2024 01:33

‘World’s coolest dictator’ wins reelection

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has won the the popular vote by a landslide, an official tally shows
‘World’s coolest dictator’ wins reelection

El Salvador’s Bitcoin-friendly and tough-on-crime president, Nayib Bukele was reelected in a landslide on Sunday, official data has shown. 

According to preliminary results released by the Central American country’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), Bukele received 83% of the votes out of the 70% of ballots counted. His New Ideas party is on track to win at least 58 out of the 60 seats in the National Assembly. 

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Bukele hailed the results as “the record of the entire democratic history of the world.” 

“It will be the first time in a country that just one party exists in a completely democratic system,” Bukele later said, according to the Associated Press. He added that “the entire opposition together was pulverized.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Bukele and Vice President Felix Ulloa with their reelection. “The United States values our strong relationship with the people of El Salvador, forged over 160 years and built on shared values, regional ties, and family connections. Events in El Salvador have a direct impact on US interests at home and abroad,” he said in a statement released by the State Department.

Officials from the opposition ARENA and FMLN parties said on Sunday that the vote has been marred by a “series of anomalies.” Anabel Belloso, an MP from the left-wing FMLN, alleged that polling stations were controlled by Bukele loyalists “in complicity with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the Attorney General’s Office.”

The opposition has also criticized Bukele for seeking a second term, given that the nation’s constitution prohibits immediate reelection. Nevertheless, El Salvador’s top court ruled in 2021 that Bukele could run again.

Responding to criticism, Bukele jokingly changed the name of his profile on X in 2021 to “the coolest dictator in the world.” 

First elected in 2019, Bukele unleashed a crackdown on violent crime and made El Salvador the first country in the world that accepts Bitcoin as legal tender. Between 2015 and 2022, the homicide rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 107 murders to 7.8, according to official data. 

At the same time, human rights groups have warned that Bukele’s “iron fist” approach leads to abuses, including arbitrary arrests and the mistreatment of detainees.

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