Wife of ex-Uruguay President Mujica becomes vice president

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MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Lucia Topolansky, a Uruguay senator and wife of former President Jose Mujica, became vice president on Wednesday following the resignation of Raul Sendic last weekend over concerns of misuse of public funds.

Topolansky, 72, who is the first woman to serve as Uruguay’s vice president, was named vice president under provisions of Uruguay’s constitution. She said she would aim to liaise between leftist President Tabare Vazquez’s administration and Congress.

Like Mujica, Topolansky was a member of the Tupamaros Marxist guerrilla movement in her youth.

The change was expected to have little impact on policy. Since 2005, Uruguay has been ruled by the left-wing Frente Amplio (FA) party, which has mixed progressive social policy, such as legalizing marijuana, with market-friendly regulations.

The FA’s ethics committee had ruled that Sendic, who headed state oil company Ancap from 2008 to 2009 and from 2010 to 2013, used his company credit card to buy personal items.

Uruguay’s constitution says Sendic should be replaced by the senator who received the most votes in the last elections, who was Mujica. But Uruguayan law bans presidents from serving a consecutive term as president or vice president.

As the senator with the second-biggest number of votes, Topolansky was next in line.

Reporting by Malena Castaldi; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Leslie Adler