Embattled governor of Puerto Rico resigns after protests

Puerto Ricans had waited expectantly for the announcement throughout the day, as rumors of the governor's forthcoming resignation swirled (AFP Photo/Eric Rojas)

San Juan (AFP) - Puerto Rico's embattled governor Ricardo Rossello announced his resignation late Wednesday following two weeks of massive protests triggered by the release of a chat exchange in which he and others mocked gays, women and hurricane victims.

"I announce that I will be resigning from the governor's post effective Friday, August 2 at 5 pm," Rossello said, in a video statement posted on the government's Facebook page.

As soon as the video ended, a joyous commotion and cries of "ole ole ole" were heard from protesters who had rallied since the afternoon at the gates of the governor's mansion.

"I trust that Puerto Rico will continue united and move forward as it always has," Rossello said. "And I hope that this decision will serve as a call for citizen reconciliation."

Rossello said that Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez would temporarily succeed him.

Puerto Ricans had waited expectantly for the announcement throughout the day, as rumors of the governor's forthcoming resignation swirled.

House Speaker Johnny Mendez had convened an extraordinary legislative session that was to begin the impeachment process Thursday.

Rossello faced a full-blown political crisis over the chat scandal and corruption cases involving money that was supposed to help victims of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 and killed nearly 3,000 people.

As recently as Tuesday, Rossello had insisted he would not step down.