The mayor of San Salvador, capital of El Salvador, announced Saturday he has resigned from the leftist FMLN party, complaining the party's leadership has been unresponsive and unyielding.
Mayor Carlos Rivas Zamora become the latest in a stream of reform-minded politicians to quit the FMLN, arguing the party has been dominated by old-guard leaders who led the organization when it was a leftist guerrilla group fighting the government during the 1980-1992 civil war.
Rivas Zamora was the most important defector from the party to date; the party's leadership did not nominate him to run again 2006 elections.
"I want to announce my resignation from this political orientation of exclusion and abuse of power," Zamora said in a resignation letter.
"We're not even speaking anymore," Rivas Zamora said. "We have two different visions of the left."
In June, two FMLN congress members quit the party, declaring themselves independents and triggering a mass defection that included two mayors, a former high court judge and another 350 party members.
The FMLN, formally known as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, has lost four straight elections since 1999 to the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, of which President Tony Saca is a member.
But the FMLN had won several important mayorships and once controlled as many seats in the legislature as the ruling party.
The mayor of Santa Ana, the country's second-largest city, has also quit the FMLN.
The party is still dominated by the old guard "orthodox" wing lead by former presidential candidate Shafik Handal, who is in his 70s and who led the Communist Party faction within the guerrilla coalition that fought the government throughout the 1980s.
Also Saturday, hundreds of unionized workers marched through the capital to demand wage increases of as much as 30 percent, AP reported.
After it turned out that Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov included the Fonbet betting company in the list of backbone enterprises that can count on state support, everyone started talking about these bookmakers.