Uruguay’s Vice-President Raúl Sendic has stepped down over accusations he used public funds for personal use while heading a state company. President Tabaré Vazquez said he did not request the resignation of Vice President Sendic, calling the move “a personal matter.”
Mr Sendic, 55, announced his resignation in Congress – a move that took the country by surprise.
An inquiry by the ruling left-wing coalition has concluded he used company credit cards for personal shopping including clothing, jewelry and electronics when he led Ancap oil firm in 2009-13.
He denies any wrongdoing, saying there was no evidence against him.
“I presented my irrevocable resignation from the vice-presidency to the plenary of the FA (ruling coalition),” Mr Sendic wrote in a tweet (in Spanish) on Saturday.
It is the first time a Uruguayan vice-president has resigned from the post.
Uruguay’s President Tabare Vazquez will head a group of ministers who will assist the government its institutions during a period of transition to a situation of “normalcy” following the resignation of the South American country’s vice president.
Vasquez claims that he didn’t request the resignation.
“I wasn’t going to ask for the resignation, firstly because it didn’t have to do with my actions and also because I considered it a personal matter” for Sendic to determine, he added. The Uruguayan head of state also said that he appreciated the management capabilities of Sendic while also noting the need for ethically using government funds and allowances provided to officials.
“If you made mistakes you have to mark these mistakes, you have to firmly correct them,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez noted, however, that in his experience Sendic fulfilled his role in a “wholesome, serious and responsible manner” while working “with honesty, capacity and commitment to the people and to the program of the government.”
Vazquez also congratulated Senator Lucía Topolansky, who will assume the role of vice president. Topolansky is the wife of former President José Mujica.
“I want to publicly express my congratulations to the comrade with whom I am honored to begin working,” Vazquez said.
Sendic presented his irrevocable resignation on Saturday to Vazquez and a plenary session of the ruling party Frente Amplio, or Broad Front.
An internal Broad Front hearing ruled against Sendic, pointing out that “the general picture of the acts outlined leaves no doubt about the unacceptable personal use of public money.”
He served as vice president of the oil company between 2005 and 2009 and president between 2009 and 2013. Prior to that, Sendic was a journalist and activist for the Broad Front.