Puerto Rico set to get its third governor in less than a week


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) – Puerto Rico will get its third governor in less than a week on Wednesday just hours after the bankrupt U.S. territory’s supreme court ruled that Pedro Pierluisi’s assumption of the office was unconstitutional.

Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez will be sworn in as governor at 5 p.m. local time at the supreme court in San Juan, according to an advisory from the governor’s office.

In a unanimous decision, the nine-member high court nullified Pierluisi’s governorship based on the fact his earlier appointment as secretary of state and next in line for governor had not been confirmed by both chambers of the legislature.

Pierluisi, who has not commented on the ruling, has said previously he would abide by the supreme court’s decision, which set a 5 p.m. local time deadline for him to leave office.

Vazquez, who last week initially expressed an unwillingness to assume Puerto Rico’s top government office, said on Wednesday she will assume the governorship under the succession plan in Puerto Rico’s constitution.

“Puerto Rico needs certainty and stability,” she said in a statement.

The high court’s ruling followed weeks of political turmoil in the bankrupt U.S. territory, where Governor Ricardo Rossello, left office last Friday in the wake of days of protests demanding he resign.

Offensive chat messages between Rossello and his closest allies and federal corruption charges against two former members of his administration sparked the protests, which drew around a third of the island’s 3.2 million people to the streets.

Reporting by Luis Valentin Ortiz in San Juan Additional reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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