July 28, 2019 / 7:06 PM / a month ago

Puerto Rico justice secretary says she doesn't want to be governor

FILE PHOTO - Puerto Rico's Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez attends a news conference in an undated still image from file video in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Courtesy WIPR NOTISEIS via REUTERS.

SAN JUAN (Reuters) - The woman in line to be the governor of Puerto Rico after Ricardo Rosselló steps down next week said on Sunday she does not want the job running the U.S. territory.

Rosselló said last week he will step down on Aug. 2 in the face of mass street protests and public outrage over the release of profane chat messages and embezzlement charges against two former administration officials.

Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez is next in line to succeed Rosselló as governor because Puerto Rico currently has no secretary of state, who would have precedence. But on Sunday she said she had no interest in taking the reins.

“I hope the governor identifies and submits a candidate for secretary of state before Aug. 2 and I have told him as much,” Vázquez wrote on Twitter.

Protesters who forced Rosselló from office had opposed Vázquez, saying she is too close to the disgraced governor.

Puerto Rico’s previous secretary of state, Luis Rivera Marín, resigned in the wake of the chat scandal.

Three people now look to be in the strongest positions to succeed Rosselló: Pedro Pierluisi, a former Puerto Rico representative in the U.S. Congress and now an attorney with Washington law firm O’Neill & Borges; Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz; and Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s current delegate to the U.S. Congress.

Puerto Ricans want a leader to steer them out of crisis and economic recession after back-to-back 2017 hurricanes that killed around 3,000 people just months after the U.S. territory filed for bankruptcy.

Reporting by Nick Brown; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Chris Reese

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