İrem UZUN -TDO- Heavily armed police and soldiers in El Salvador briefly occupied the country's parliament building on Sunday in a literal show of force supporting legislation to better equip them. President Nayib Bukele called an extraordinary weekend session of parliament to ask it approves a loan that has pitted the executive against lawmakers in a country with one of the world’s highest murder rates. Before his entry, armed police and soldiers with rifles and wearing body armor entered the chamber and stood guard - a move not seen since the end of the country's civil war in 1992.
"If those shameless people don't approve the plan of territorial control, we'll summon you here again [next] Sunday," he told supporters in a fiery speech outside, as he left the building. Politicians were due to meet on Monday (local time) to discuss the President's proposals, Congress president Mario Ponce said, in a possible sign of de-escalation.
Bukele, who took office last June, has pledged to tackle gang violence and intends using the loan to better equip the military and police, but lawmakers refused to sit for an extra session over the weekend to debate the issue.
The President's move to pressure MPs was backed by defence minister Rene Merino Monroy and police director Mauricio Arriaza Chicas. Although the murder rate in El Salvador has declined steeply since Mr. Bukele took office, authorities continue to battle gangs that control vast territory in the country. In a statement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for "dialogue and full respect for democratic institutions to guarantee the rule of law, including the independence of the branches of public power".