El Salvador to present constitutional reform plan

In this Nov 11, 2019 photo, El Salvador's Vice-President Felix Ulloa arrives for a dinner with participants of the Paris Peace Forum at the Elysee Palace, in Paris. (LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)

SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador's government will present a proposal on Saturday to reform the Constitution, seeking to extend the presidential term, include the possibility of revoking the president's mandate and replacing the electoral tribunal.

Earlier this month, El Salvador's government bonds took a tumble on the disclosure of the reform plan

After a year analyzing possible changes to fundamental rights, the political and economic system, and constitutional procedural law, a team of lawyers led by Vice-President Felix Ulloa drew up the document with 215 proposed reforms to the Constitution.

The reforms would extend the presidential term to six years from five, starting in 2029, and mandate that a president could only be reelected to non-consecutive terms.

It also includes mechanisms for citizen participation such as referendums and plebiscites, as well as the creation of a constitutional court and a new national electoral institute.

The legal team will discuss the proposal over the weekend with local and international journalists, according to an invitation sent on Wednesday. They have already held closed-door meetings with the diplomatic corps, academics and civil society organizations.

ALSO READ: El Salvador ends anti-corruption accord with OAS, dismaying US

The final proposal will be delivered in September to President Nayib Bukele, who must evaluate the reform plan before sending it to Congress, where his allies hold a super majority.

In Congress, the reform package would need be approved in one legislature and ratified by the other, before it could take effect. The team of lawyers have proposed bypassing Congress and ratifying the changes to the Constitution through a referendum.

Earlier this month, El Salvador's government bonds took a tumble on the disclosure of the reform plan, prompting Ulloa to criticize international financial markets.

Bukele has clashed with both the legislature and the Supreme Court, and rights groups say he has shown authoritarian tendencies, prompting some to cast doubt on the reform plan.

"We have to see what the overall intentions are with the reform process and new Constitution," said Eduardo Escobar, head of rights group Accion Ciudadana.