Mexico's PRI suspends controversial governor's party membership

September 26, 2016 11:04 PM EDT

Javier Duarte, Governor of the state of Veracruz, attends a news conference in Xalapa, Mexico, August 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's ruling Intuitional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, voted on Monday to suspend a controversial governor's party membership in a bid to root out widespread perceptions of corruption among its ranks.

Citing damage to the party's image and the strength of corruption allegations leveled against Veracruz state Governor Javier Duarte, the PRI's seven-member justice commission approved the suspension of him and to six of his aides.

Duarte became the governor of the eastern state, a populous and oil-rich PRI bastion, in 2010 a vote tarred with accusations of electoral fraud.

His time in office became synonymous with widespread drug violence, accusations of graft and multiple journalist killings.

Veracruz is the most dangerous state for journalists in Mexico, with at least 17 journalists murdered there since 2010, Reporters Without Borders says.

The PRI lost Veracruz in gubernatorial elections in June, as voters across the country hit back at the party for its failure to tackle endemic corruption, impunity and violence.

Duarte's term is formally due to conclude at the end of November.

Duarte's office declined to make an immediate comment.

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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