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No clear successor yet for resigning Puerto Rican leader

By Clyde Hughes
No clear successor yet for resigning Puerto Rican leader
Protesters rally July 17 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, calling on Gov. Ricardo Rossello to resign from office. Photo by Thais Llorca/EPA

Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is set to resign Friday but it still isn't clear exactly who will succeed him.

Appointed Secretary of State Pedro Pierluisi, who could to assume Rossello's office, may not have enough support from lawmakers. The next official in line for the gubernatorial post after secretary of state, Justice Secretary Wanda Vasquez, has already said she doesn't want the job.

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Opponents have concerns about Pierluisi's connection with a law firm that represents the territory's much-criticized federal oversight board, as a possible conflict of interest. Pierluisi, appointed Wednesday to succeed Luis Rivera Marin last month, has not yet been confirmed by the Puerto Rico Senate or House.

"Under our constitutional scheme, there is no legal way for a secretary to become governor without having been confirmed," expert Reyes Gil, of the Inter-American University Law School, told El Nuevo Dia.

"I reiterate, I have no interest in occupying the position of governor," Vasquez tweeted earlier this week. "The constitution dictates it. I hope that the governor identifies and submits a candidate for the position of secretary of state before [Friday]."

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Rossello decided to resign after ongoing protests over leaked chat messages that showed he and associates mocked political opponents and victims of Hurricane Maria. Marin also resigned over the scandal.

If Pierluisi ascends to the post, he would serve until elections next year.

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