Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe resigned on Tuesday, bringing an end to his 37 years of autocratic rule.
The announcement came as the Zimbabwean Parliament convened in the capital, Harare, to begin impeachment proceedings against Mugabe. The speaker of parliament, Jacob Mudenda, read a letter allegedly from the 93-year-old leader, saying he was stepping down “with immediate effect” for “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power,” according to The New York Times.
Lawmakers erupted into thunderous cheers and applause. Crowds of ecstatic residents poured into the streets of Harare for celebrations as news of the resignation spread.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Zimbabwe,” Perseverance Sande, 20, told The New York Times in central Harare. “I’ve been waiting so long for this moment.”
Zimbabwe’s former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be Mugabe’s successor, a spokesman for the ruling ZANU-PF party told CNN.
Earlier this month, Mugabe fired Mnangagwa, his deputy and longtime ally, and accused him of scheming to take power, including through witchcraft. A week later, Zimbabwe’s military leaders apparently took charge, deploying tanks near the capital and placing the president as well as his wife, Grace Mugabe, under house arrest.
But Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state and one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, clung to power for several more days, quitting only after his party ousted him as their leader and parliament threatened to impeach him.
Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since its independence from British colonial rule in 1980, becoming the southern African nation’s first prime minister. He became president in 1987.
Mugabe was long revered by Zimbabweans as a war hero who helped liberate the country from white minority rule. But many have come to view him as a ruthless despot who has plundered the country’s resources.
(H/T The New York Times, CNN)