By Nelson Renteria
SANSALVADOR (Reuters) – El Salvador’s incoming president Nayib Bukele said on Tuesday he would not be inviting the leaders of Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela to his June 1 inauguration after criticizing them as illegitimate rulers.
In a Twitter post, the 37-year-old Bukele confirmed news reports that invitations were not being extended to Juan Orlando Hernandez, president of neighbouring Honduras, Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, or Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Bukele, who won an election in February, did not say why the presidents would not be asked, but he has previously criticized all three as men who did not deserve to be in power due to controversies that have clouded their administrations.
The 2017 re-election of Hernandez, a conservative ally of the United States, has been questioned by many, including Bukele, due to a disputed vote count that took weeks to resolve.
Hernandez appeared to be on track to suffer a shock loss in the election before the official vote count came to a sudden halt. When it restarted more than a day later, the count turned in his favour and he was ultimately declared the winner.
Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War antagonist of Washington, has faced international condemnation for Nicaragua’s a heavy-handed crackdown on months of protests that he has described as part of a plot to oust him.
Maduro, who has presided over an economic and political crisis in Venezuela, has been under pressure to step down amid accusations he has abused his power to suppress the opposition.
Bukele is one of a host of political figures that have given their support to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who in January declared himself the rightful president.
Venezuela has rejected criticism of the Maduro government as hostile propaganda and as attempts to set the stage for an intervention by foreign powers in the country.
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Dave Graham; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)