Official who was set to replace Puerto Rican governor refuses the job

"I reiterate, I have no interest in occupying the position of Governor," Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez said Sunday.

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By Doha Madani

The woman who was next in line to become Puerto Rico's governor after the current governor resigned amid massive protests said Sunday that she does not want the position.

Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez said she does not want to assume the role of governor and has asked departing Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to appoint someone else to replace him instead.

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By law, the island's secretary of state would succeed Rosselló, but no one has been confirmed for that position since Luis G. Rivera Marín — who was involved in the same scandal that brought down Rosselló — submitted his resignation July 13.

"I reiterate, I have no interest in occupying the position of Governor," Vázquez said in a tweet Sunday. "It is a Constitutional opinion. I hope that the Governor identifies and submits a candidate for the position of Secretary of State before August 2 and I have told him so."

Puerto Ricans generally see Vázquez as an unfavorable replacement because she is seen as loyal to Rosselló. The hashtag #WandaRenuncia (or "Wanda, resign") started trending on Twitter immediately after Rosselló's announced that he would be resigning.

The island protested for nearly two weeks after almost 900 pages of leaked private chats between the governor and several island officials set off a wave of scandal on the island. The chats, on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, shocked islanders for their vulgarity and crassness and raised questions about possible conflicts of interest and violations of the law.

The group, which included the former secretary of state, exchanged profanity-laced, misogynistic and homophobic comments as well as barbed and cynical remarks about different topics, including jokes about deaths following Hurricane María in 2017.

Vázquez initially described the leaked chats as "incorrect," but not illegal. She later announced that she would recuse herself from any investigation because she was mentioned in the chats.

Puerto Ricans took to the streets in record-setting numbers to demand Rosselló step down, including the largest protest in the island's history — 100,000 to 500,000 people taking to the streets and shouting "Ricky, Renuncia!" ("Ricky, Resign!").