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OAS chief quits over scandal

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WASHINGTON — The head of the Organization of American States resigned Friday, just two weeks into his tenure, after allegations that he participated in a bribery scandal involving a French telephone company.

Secretary-General Miguel Angel Rodriguez, from Costa Rica, disclosed his resignation in a letter read to a special session of the OAS permanent council. The resignation takes effect on Oct. 15.

The first allegations of wrongdoing against Rodriguez surfaced Sept. 30 and prompted a demand for his resignation by President Abel Pacheco of Costa Rica.

In his letter, Rodriguez said he did not want to subject the OAS to a "cruel and long persecution of its secretary-general," not only in judicial proceedings but also in the media.

"With humility, pain and anguish, I ask you and your countries for forgiveness for making you endure this difficult period," Rodriguez said in his letter. It was read to the 34-member council by Costa Rica's ambassador to the OAS, Luis Guardia.

Rodriguez did not attend the session, and OAS officials were uncertain of his whereabouts. He also was expected on the Caribbean island of Grenada to view its recent hurricane damage but did not show up.

The former Costa Rican president will be succeeded by the second-ranking official in the OAS, Luigi Einaudi, an American and a former State Department official.