Mercury (Hobart)

Maverick president sacks ‘old’ judges


All of El Salvador’s judges over 60 will be fired after the latest decree by its young president, who has also triggered a mix of adulation and alarm by announcing that his country will be the first in the world to accept bitcoin as legal tender.

Nayib Bukele, 40, has justified the mandatory retirement of more than 150 judges, a third of all those serving, as part of his effort to “clean house” anyone who might be tainted as corrupt. No one has said why a judge at 60 is more corrupt than one in their 50s.

His critics say the move is to purge a key branch of government, the judiciary, of opponents.

In May, the parliament – dominated by pro-Bukele MPs after elections six months ago – voted to dismiss the five most senior judges in the supreme court, as well as the attorney-general. They were all replaced with loyalists.

Bukele, of Palestinia­n ancestry, came to power in a landslide election in 2019, winning more votes than all his rivals combined. America, initially supportive, is showing increasing unease.

Foreigners who invest three bitcoins in the country – at present valued at about $A200,000 – will be granted residency.

Johns Hopkins University economist at Steve Hanke said: “Bukele’s authoritar­ian tendencies and crackpot cryptocurr­ency ideas will result in currency chaos and economic collapse,” he told Reuters.

 ??  ?? Nayib Bukele.
Nayib Bukele.

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