El Salvador's congress allows president to leave job to run for re-election

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele attends inauguration of pharmaceutical plant
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SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) -El Salvador's Congress late on Thursday granted President Nayib Bukele permission to leave his post so that he can campaign ahead of the country's presidential election next year.

The Central American country's Congress chose Claudia Rodriguez, the current head of the National Directorate of Municipal Works, as his substitute.

Rodriguez has worked in Bukele family companies and during Nayib Bukele's administrations when he was mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlan and San Salvador, the capital.

Earlier this week, Bukele said he would formally request the leave of absence "to dedicate myself to the campaign."

Despite constitutional prohibitions, Bukele and his current Vice President Felix Ulloa are seeking a second consecutive term in the February 4 election.

The winner of February's election is set to take office on June 1.

While critics question Bukele's ability to seek a second consecutive term, citing a constitutional prohibition, the country's top court ruled he could run in 2021.

Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, enjoys massive popularity going into the election stemming largely from a sweeping crackdown on the Central American country's violent gangs, with over 75,000 suspected gang members arrested to date.

The strategy has drawn allegations of human rights violations.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Brendan O'Boyle)