Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe has resigned. The speaker of the parliament, Jacob Mudenda said the letter from Mr Mugabe stated that the decision was voluntary and he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power.
The surprise announcement halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him and sparked wild celebrations on the nation’s streets.
His former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose sacking this month prompted the military takeover that forced Mugabe out, will be sworn in as president on Wednesday or Thursday, Patrick Chinamasa, legal secretary of the ruling ZANU-PF party, told Reuters.
The 93-year-old Mugabe had clung on for a week after an army takeover, with ZANU-PF urging him to go. He finally resigned moments after parliament began an impeachment process seen as the only legal way to force him out.
Wild celebrations broke out at a joint sitting of parliament when Speaker Jacob Mudenda read out Mugabe’s brief resignation letter and suspended the impeachment procedure. Mugabe, who has been confined to his Harare residence, did not appear.
People danced and car horns blared at news that the era of Mugabe — who had led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 — was finally over. Some held posters of Mnangagwa and of army chief General Constantino Chiwenga.
Despite the outpouring of joy on the streets, his downfall was as much the result of in-fighting among the political elite as a popular uprising, although thousands of people rallied against him in the days after the army intervened last week.
The army seized power after Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa, ZANU-PF’s favorite to succeed him, in a bid to smooth a path to the presidency for his wife Grace, 52, known to her critics as “Gucci Grace” for her reputed fondness for luxury shopping.
Since the crisis began, Mugabe has been mainly confined to his “Blue Roof” mansion in the capital where Grace is also believed to be.
Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since a guerrilla struggle ended white-minority rule in the country formerly known as Rhodesia.