October 23, 2014 / 11:34 PM / 3 years ago

Governor of Mexican state where students disappeared stands down

Relatives of the 43 missing students of the Ayotzinapa teachers' training college hold pictures of the students, during a protest at Zocalo square in Mexico City October 22, 2014. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The governor of a Mexican state roiled by the disappearance of dozens of students, police brutality and corruption that has sparked protests and embarrassed President Enrique Pena Nieto, bowed to pressure on Thursday and said he was standing down.

Angel Aguirre, governor of the violent, impoverished state of Guerrero in southwest Mexico, said he was taking a leave of absence. The move is the only option open to him given he cannot resign by law. It was not clear who would replace him.

Aguirre, 58, a member of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), has faced sustained criticism since the disappearance of 43 students in the Guerrero city of Iguala after clashes with police there the night of September 26.

Police suspected of being in league with local gangsters shot dead one of the students that night and abducted at least two dozen more, according to Mexico’s attorney general.

Dozens of bodies have been uncovered in mass graves in the hills around Iguala, whose mayor, accused with his wife and police chief of orchestrating the students’ disappearance, is on the run. However, investigators say they have yet to identify the remains of any of the students.

Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter and Dave Graham; Editing by Simon Gardner and Diane Craft

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