What to know about the political drama raising fears over El Salvador's democracy

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele delivers a press conference at a hotel in San Salvador, on February 28, 2021.

(CNN)The future of El Salvador's democracy is under global scrutiny after lawmakers teamed up with populist president Nayib Bukele over the weekend to replace every judge on the Constitutional Court, the highest branch of the country's judiciary system.

Here's everything you need to know about what's happening in the Central American nation, and Washington's close eye on the situation.

What happened in El Salvador?

    Drama unfolded in the halls of power in capital city San Salvador late Saturday, when the country's Legislative Assembly voted to dismiss the five judges who form the Constitutional Court.
      The motion had been proposed by the New Ideas party of El Salvador's president Nayib Bukele, which has held a strong majority of 56 out of 84 seats since a landslide victory in legislative elections last March.
      Lawmakers from New Ideas alleged the constitutional court was impeding the president's ability to confront the Covid-19 pandemic. Bukele's critics, however, say he has veered into authoritarian rule.
      In March last year the Constitutional Court ruled that it was illegal to incarcerate citizens who had defied lockdown orders, a court rule the president publicly rejected. The institutional clash re-emerged this week as the five judges ruled the vote on their firing unconstitutional. Lawmakers responded by ordering the removal of the country's attorney general Raul Melara.
        Eventually, the legislative branch prevailed: Melara presented his resignation shortly afterwards, and on Monday, five new judges took office in the Constitutional Court.
        Questions remain over the legality of the weekend's events, but the reshuffle has effectively placed put the president firmly in control of all the country's highest public institutions.
        Ruling party New Ideas lawmakers are sworn-in at the Congress in San Salvador, El Salvador, Saturday, May 1, 2021.

        Who is Nayib Bukele?

        Shortly after the congressional vote, the 39-year-old Bukele celebrated by tweeting "FIRED" in all caps, followed by five clapping hands emojis. Across the weekend, the President took to Twitter to defend the congressional decision, urging the international community to stay out of the strife. "We are cleaning house," he wrote.
        Bukele, a right-wing populist, rose to power in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform, promising to "drain the swamp" of Salvadorean politics. He is the first president since 1989 not to come from one of the country's two main political parties, the conservative ARENA party and the leftwing, former guerrilla movement, FMLN.
        In his presidential campaign and first year of his presidency, Bukele presented himself as an admirer and close ally of former president Donald Trump, who tweeted praises of the young leader for "working well with us on immigration."
        Savior or strongman? El Salvador's millennial president defies courts and Congress on coronavirus response