Puerto Rico governor won't seek new term

Thousands of Puerto Ricans have protested against the governor over an obscenity-laced online chat.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans have protested against the governor over an obscenity-laced online chat.

Puerto Rico's governor is refusing to quit in the face of public furore over an obscenity-laced leaked online chat but he will not seek re-election or continue as head of his pro-statehood political party.

Protesters say they are not satisfied by Ricardo Rossello's concessions and have vowed to continue demonstrations that have filled the streets of Old San Juan for more than a week.

In a brief video posted on Facebook, Rossello also said he looked forward to defending himself against the process of impeachment, whose initial stages are being explored by Puerto Rico's legislature.

"In spite of everything, I recognise that apologising isn't enough, that only my work will help restore confidence ...," the governor said.

"Facing that scenario, I announce to you that I will not seek re-election next year."

The 889 pages of chat on the encrypted app Telegram between the governor and 11 close allies and members of his administration, all men, showed the governor and his close advisers insulting women and mocking constituents, including the victims of Hurricane Maria.

Since the chat leaked on July 13, hundreds of thousands of outraged Puerto Ricans have marched to Rossello's official residence in the largest protest movement on the island since Puerto Ricans successfully demonstrated to demand an end to US Navy military training on the island of Vieques more than 15 years ago.

The upheaval comes as the US territory struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria and tries to restructure part of $US70 billion in debt amid a 13-year recession in this territory.

On Monday morning, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans were expected to take over one of the island's main highways to demand Rossello's resignation.

Australian Associated Press