Harare, Nov 21 (IANS) Under fire from the public and military, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday resigned from the country’s top post after 37 years, parliament Speaker Jacob Mudenda announced.
The 93-year-old was set to get marching orders after Zimbabwe’s ruling party presented a motion in Parliament to impeach the defiant leader.
Cheers broke out in the parliament after speaker Mudenda read out Mugabe’s resignation letter.
“I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of Section 96 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation … with immediate effect,” said Mudenda, reading the letter.
The news also sparked scenes of jubilation in the capital, Harare, as people took to the streets to celebrate Mugabe’s removal, six days after a surprise military takeover placed him under house arrest.
“People are coming out onto the streets, people are calling this day Independence Day,” Al Jazeera reported.
Following Mugabe’s surprise resignation, impeachment proceedings in parliament were suspended.
Mugabe had previously refused to resign despite last week’s military takeover and days of protests.
Mugabe, 93, led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. He has won elections, but over the past 15 years these have been marred by violence against political opponents. He has presided over a deepening economic crisis in Zimbabwe, where people are on average 15 per cent poorer now than they were in 1980.
Zanu-PF’s motion was seconded by opposition party MDC after Mugabe was accused of allowing his wife to ‘usurp’ power and of being too old to rule, Daily Mail reported.
It comes after ousted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa warned Mugabe to respect public opinion and step down, claiming there was a plot to “eliminate” him. He said he would return home only when his security was assured and has turned down an invitation to meet the dictator.
Mnangagwa, who is widely expected to take over after Mugabe is removed, said the country had “spoken with one voice” and that the 93-year-old should step down so that Zimbabwe could “move forward”.
He also claimed that shortly after his dismissal as Mugabe’s deputy, he was warned by security personnel “who are friendly to me” that “plans were underfoot to eliminate me once arrested and taken to a police station. It was in my security interest to leave the country immediately”.
The move, apparently, comes after the despot had been left isolated and humiliated after his demands for ministers to attend his weekly cabinet meetings were dismissed.
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