MEXICO CITY — The governor of the southeastern state of Yucatan, accused of working to rig bitterly contested statewide elections last weekend, resigned Wednesday along with 15 of her top advisers. Opposition leaders have charged that the governor and the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party committed massive fraud.
Gov. Dulce Maria Sauri, a ruling-party stalwart who has denied any wrongdoing, was not a candidate in the election. But she submitted her handwritten letter of resignation to the state Congress shortly after midnight, stating that unspecified "circumstances" were preventing her from doing her job.
The governor, a former federal senator, gave no further explanation. Yucatan Secretary of State Ricardo Avila Heredia will temporarily assume the governor's duties in her absence, a government spokesman said.
The new governor is scheduled to take office on Feb. 1.
Also as of late Wednesday, authorities had not released the official results of Sunday's elections, in which Yucatan residents cast ballots for the governor and for more than 100 mayoral seats.
The Yucatan contests have taken on special significance because many see them as a test of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari's pledge that Mexico will hold fair presidential elections next August. The ruling party's presidential candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio, was named on Sunday, the same day as the Yucatan elections.
The ruling party, known by its Spanish acronym PRI, has never lost a presidential race since its founding in 1929. Charges of fraud tainted Salinas' razor-thin majority in the 1988 elections. Indeed, fraud charges against the PRI have become almost automatic in Mexican elections in recent years.
The PRI has claimed an overwhelming victory in Yucatan for its gubernatorial candidate, Federico Granja Ricalde. He is a 53-year-old civil engineer.
But the conservative opposition National Action Party, long a force in Yucatan politics, is seeking to annul the vote. It alleges widespread irregularities, including ballot-stuffing and intimidation of voters.
"This is the worst fraud we've ever seen," said Ana Maria Matos, a National Action activist in the state capital of Merida.
Ruling-party authorities have denied wrongdoing, calling the elections "unquestionably clean."
National Action's gubernatorial hopeful is Ana Rosa Payan, 42, a popular former mayor of Merida.