Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s President on Tuesday after 37 years of autocratic rule, finally succumbing to the pressure of a military takeover and the humiliation of impeachment.
The announcement came minutes into a joint session of the Zimbabwean Parliament in Harare, convened to prise the 93-year-old from power.
As the speaker read out a letter from Mugabe, lawmakers broke out in thunderous applause. The impeachment proceedings were immediately suspended.
Mugabe’s successor, according to a spokesman for the ZANU-PF party, will be former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose firing by Mugabe precipitated the crisis.
In the streets outside, crowds erupted in rapturous celebrations, dancing and cheering in joy, raising their fists and waving Zimbabwean flags.
It was the culmination of an extraordinary week in the history of Zimbabwe that began when the country’s military leaders staged an unprecedented intervention to prevent the ascent to power of Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, Grace.
When the crisis started, it bore all the hallmarks of a coup. At the end, it almost resembled a popular revolt. “We think that this is the work of God,” one young man told CNN in Harare. “We were in crisis for a long time, and this is a new day for Zimbabweans.”
Mugabe’s announcement was an acknowledgement of the inevitable. In reality, he lost his grip on power six days ago when the country’s top generals launched what amounted to a military coup, placing the veteran leader under house arrest.
After nearly four decades of unimpeded rule, which began amid the triumph of independence from Britain, Mugabe’s political downfall unfolded in just two weeks.
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