The governor of the southern Mexico state where 43 college students have gone missing in a case that the authorities say has exposed the deep ties among local politicians, the police and organized crime stepped down on Thursday under pressure from his own party.
The governor, Ángel Aguirre of Guerrero State, agreed to leave his post after leaders of his party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution, publicly said they would otherwise try to push him out in order to quell growing civil unrest in the state.
On Wednesday, protesters burned the city hall of Iguala, where the students went missing on Sept. 26 after a violent clash with the police. Last week, the State Capitol building in Chilpancingo was heavily damaged by fire in demonstrations demanding that the governor step down.
Mr. Aguirre, 58, who began his six-year term in April 2011, has not been implicated in the students’ disappearance. But as the head of the party and chief executive in one of the country’s most violent states, he faced mounting criticism over failing to rein in corrupt politicians and the police. The mayor of Iguala and his wife, who are now fugitives, had strong ties to a gang, the authorities have said, and ordered a police force infiltrated by the gang to detain the students, who were then turned over to the gang and have not been seen since.
Governors, politically powerful in Mexico’s federal system and legally protected in most cases from prosecution, rarely step down or face investigation while in office. But in southern Mexico, there is some precedent, including another governor of Guerrero, Rubén Figueroa Alcocer, who was forced out in 1996 after government-linked gunmen killed 17 peasants at a roadblock. Mr. Aguirre served the remaining three years of his term as his appointed successor.
Analysts said his resignation would do little to change a political landscape dominated by cronyism, favors and infiltration by organized crime.
“Aguirre’s resignation does not accomplish much, especially when we take into account we have a very porous political class, when it comes to organized crime, and because we don’t have solid institutions,” said Fernando Dworak, a political analyst and columnist.
Guerrero’s Congress will name a successor. Under Mexican law, Mr. Aguirre technically asked the Congress for a leave of absence and in theory could later ask to come back, yet few political experts believed that would be possible.
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