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Scandals throw line of succession for Puerto Rico governor into chaos

Puerto Rico gov. line of succession in chaos
Scandals throw line of succession for Puerto Rico governor into chaos 03:01

The mood in Puerto Rico is shifting from celebration to uncertainty over who will replace the island's scandal-plagued governor Ricardo Rosselló who is set to step down Friday. The justice secretary, who is next in the line of succession, tweeted Sunday, "I have no interest in occupying the position."  What happens now is anybody's guess.

Puerto Rico does lay out a clear line of succession when a governor resigns but with multiple scandals at the highest levels of government, it's not clear who will be sitting in the governor's office at the end of the week.

After weeks of demonstrations to oust Rosselló, new protests broke out overnight to demand the resignation of Wánda Vazquez, the secretary of justice in line to take his place.

"I think that the population believes that she is part of the political system," said law professor Carlos Ramos. "I think it's a matter of trust. People don't trust her."

Now, Vázquez's apparent refusal to take the governor's job is throwing the line of succession into chaos. If the governor resigns, the territory's secretary of state should have been next in line but he resigned earlier this month, caught in the same scandal involving offensive chat messages as the governor. Next is Vazquez. If she doesn't take the office, it then falls to the secretary of the treasury but he is only 31 years old and the minimum age to become governor is 35. Then comes the secretary of education, who has only been on the job a few months.

Vázquez is calling on Rosselló to appoint a new "second in command" before Friday, making her succession a moot point. CBS News asked Vázquez on Twitter: "Do you plan to resign in order to not be constitutionally obligated to assume the governor's office?" She has not yet replied. If she doesn't step down, she's obligated to serve.

According to Ramos, the new education secretary does appear to have support in the senate, if it goes that far. Any new secretary of state would face an uphill battle because he or she would have to be approved by lawmakers by Friday.

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