The decision was delivered late Friday night by judges appointed in May by the country’s newly elected Congress — which is dominated by Bukele’s party — after the lawmakers removed the magistrates of the Supreme Court’s constitutional chamber and the attorney general.
The top court’s ruling has drawn condemnation by the US government, rights groups and opposition politicians, which have slammed the move as unconstitutional.
Reacting to the decision Friday, Óscar Ortiz, general secretary of the Farabundo Martī Front for National Liberation and former vice president of El Salvador wrote in a tweet: “The dictatorship is consummated.”
Bukele has not yet responded to the court’s ruling. CNN has requested comment.
Since sweeping to power in 2019, the charismatic young leader has pledged to reform Salvadoran politics and tackle corruption. But critics have accused the 40-year-old of authoritarian tendencies.
“Democracy in El Salvador is on the edge of the abyss,” José Miguel Vivanco, the executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch wrote on Twitter Sunday.