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Puerto Rico Gov. Rossello says he is resigning, will swear in Pierluisi

(Angel Valentin / Getty Images)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello says he is resigning and swearing in veteran politician Pedro Pierluisi as his replacement.

In an emailed announcement from his office, Rossello says Pierluisi does not need confirmation from both houses of the territory's legislature because he was named secretary of state, the next in line to be governor, in a recess appointment this week.

The statement says Pierluisi will be sworn in to complete Rossello's term, but it does not say exactly when. Rossello had promised to resign at 5 p.m. Friday, a few minutes before the statement was sent.

Puerto Rico's House of Representatives voted to confirm Pedro Pierluisi earlier Friday.

The House, which is controlled by Pierluisi's New Progressive Party, voted 26-21, with one abstention, to confirm Gov. Ricardo Rossello's nominee and potential successor.

The House erupted into cheers when the deciding vote was cast.

But Pierluisi's fate remains unclear.

The secretary of state is next to line for the governor's chair when the chief executive resigns. But the issue of who is rightfully governor is almost certain to go to court. Some believe that because the legislature wasn't in session when Pierluisi was appointed, he's already secretary of state unless the legislature rejects him.

Others argue that he still needs to be confirmed -- some say just by the House of Representatives. Others say the Senate has to approve him too.

Rossello promised to resign in response to weeks of popular protest over mismanagement, and a series of leaked chats in which he and advisers denigrate a range of Puerto Ricans.

If Pierluisi does not become governor, the position is taken by Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez, who is not widely popular and already is the target of protests.