Embattled Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello will nominate the island’s former representative in the United States Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, as his new secretary of state and next in line to succeed him when he steps down, he said on Wednesday.
Rossello said last week he would resign on Friday in the face of 12 days of mass street protests and public outrage in the US territory over the release of profane chat messages and federal corruption charges against two former administration officials.
“After much analysis and taking into consideration the best interests of our people, I have selected Attorney Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia to fill the secretary of state vacancy,” Rossello said on Twitter. “To address this matter, I will be convening a special session [of the legislative assembly] for tomorrow.”
Pierluisi, a corporate lawyer who works for Washington law firm O’Neill & Borges, would be eligible to succeed Rossello only if Puerto Rican politicians approve his nomination in the Thursday session.
Top legislators have already said they will reject Pierluisi’s nomination because he works for a law firm that represents the federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances and say that is a conflict of interest.
Pierluisi represented Puerto Rico in Congress from 2009 to 2017.
Puerto Ricans want a leader to steer them out of crisis and economic recession after Rossello’s term was marked by back-to-back 2017 hurricanes that killed about 3,000 people just months after the US territory filed for bankruptcy.
Replacing the first-term governor became complicated after the official in line for the top government post, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez, said she did not want the position.