By Vakkas Dogantekin
ANKARA (AA) - Puerto Rico governor announced Sunday that he will not seek re-election next year and is resigning as the president of the New Progressive Party, following sometimes violent protests over a political scandal.
"A huge portion of the population is unhappy and I recognize it," Ricardo Rossello said on Facebook Live, in a bid to address the concerns of cacerolazo protesters a day before planned strike and street demonstrations.
"I've heard you, I love the island and people. Today I have the responsibility to direct my strengths to try to find alternatives," said Russell who has been governing the unincorporated U.S. territory for two-and-half years in a four-year term.
"I'm going to be looking forward to turning over power to the person elected democratically," he said.
Rossello, however, did not say he would resign as governor, a demand by the protesters after offensive private chat messages between Rossello and his inner circle were leaked last week.
He said he would resign as head of his New Progressive Party (PNP) as well but would remain as governor until the end of his term in January 2021.
Protesters were not alone in asking him to step down as governor as well out of respect to Puerto Ricans.
“Once again: Rossello must resign,” tweeted U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in response to his Facebook video.
Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, Puerto Rico's resident commissioner in Washington and the VP of New Progressive Party, also called for his resignation Sunday saying that he took the first good step by not running for re-election but "must resign as governor and allow another to finish the term."
Puerto Rico House Speaker Carlos Mendez appointed an independent panel on Friday to investigate whether the offensive chats warranted impeachment of Rossello.
The tense protest environment outside of the governor's mansion La Fortaleza was replaced by a huge party after Rossello's announcement.
Russell was accused of alleged corruption and mismanagement of 2017 hurricane funds, and a July 13 publication of sexist and homophobic chat messages between Rossello and top aides added insult to injury, paving the way for mass protests in the bankrupt small island nation.