The president and two vice presidents of the Spanish Film Academy have stepped down in a surprise move just four months after their reelection to a second three-year term.

They were replaced by unanimous vote at an extraordinary board meeting last week by the actress Mercedes Sampietro, who will take over from Marisa Paredes as president, and producer Agustin Almodovar and director Isabel Coixet as vice presidents.

However, new elections will take place after the next Goya Awards ceremony, to be held January 31 and themed around Iberoamerica.

At a last-minute press conference called for Thursday night in Madrid, producer-director Antonio Chavarrias, one of two outgoing vice presidents with director Joaquin Oristrell, said the three chose to resign due to work commitments and a feeling of exhaustion after more than three years in a highly publicised volunteer post.

He added that they had waited until key issues were resolved, including the renegotiation of a new contract with public network Television Espanola (TVE) for broadcasting the annual Goya Awards ceremony - confirmed but still in the works.

Chavarrias denied the move had anything to do with political pressures following the controversial anti-war tone of last year's Goya ceremony.