Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president Tuesday, following a week of extraordinary events that saw the country’s military and political establishment quickly turn on the 93-year-old leader.
In a letter read aloud to Zimbabwe’s parliament, Mugabe said he was resigning effective immediately to ensure a “smooth transfer of power” after 37 years in power, reports Reuters.
Mugabe’s resignation came as parliament commenced an impeachment process in response to his refusal to step down. It caps seven days of unprecedented political upheaval in Zimbabwe and puts an end to nearly four decades of Mugabe’s control of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Army Gen. Constantino Chiwenga placed Mugabe under house arrest last week, striking a decisive blow in a power struggle between the president and rival factions of the ZANU-PF. The military intervention was prompted by Mugabe’s firing of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a move seen as an obvious ploy to set up first lady Grace Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s next president.
Mugabe’s political base collapsed soon after, as the ZANU-PF expelled him as party leader and hundreds of thousands poured into the streets of Harare in a mass anti-Mugabe demonstration. Party leaders told Mugabe Sunday that he would have to resign or face impeachment proceedings, an ultimatum the president initially resisted.
Mnangagwa is now expected to take over as president. The former state security chief was instrumental in Mugabe’s rise to power following the overthrow if white minority rule in 1980, and is seen by the country’s ruling elite as a legitimate successor, in contrast to the unpopular Grace Mugabe.
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