Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe president: 37-year rule ends as parliament debates impeachment

Zimbabwe's long-time president Robert Mugabe has finally resigned, moments after the country's parliament started deliberation on his ouster.

The parliament erupted in cheers as Speaker Jacob Mudenda announced the resignation, halting the impeachment proceedings midway to say they had received Mugabe's resignation "with immediate effect."

"I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation... with immediate effect," said speaker Mudenda, reading the letter.

Mugabe was the world's longest-ruling leader remaining 37 years in power after he took over in 1980, after the British colonial rule ended.

Zimbabwe's parliament had started the impeachment process against Mugabe on 21 November. In the last week, Mugabe had clung on in the face of a collapse of his authority and a 20 November deadline to quit.

The army seized power a week ago and there have been mass protests against him and calls to resign from many sides including on 21 November from the ruling party's favourite to succeed him Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Parliament speaker said he received a motion to impeach and the parliament would adjourn for a hotel to start the proceedings on 21  November afternoon. Zimbabwean law says a joint sitting can take place anywhere. Thousands of people demonstrated outside parliament urging Mugabe to quit.

 Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe president: 37-year rule ends as parliament debates impeachment

File image of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. AP

Mugabe led Zimbabwe's liberation war and is hailed as one of Africa's founding fathers and a staunch supporter of the drive to free neighbouring South Africa from apartheid in 1994.

But many people in Africa and beyond also say he has damaged Zimbabwe's economy, democracy, and judiciary by staying in power for too long and has used violence to crush perceived political opponents.

South African president Jacob Zuma and his Angolan counterpart, Joao Lourenco, will travel on Wednesday to Zimbabwe in a fresh sign of diplomatic pressure, South Africa's state broadcaster said.

Mugabe held his weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday but only five ministers and the attorney general turned up; 17 others opted to attend a meeting to plan the impeachment.

“The people of Zimbabwe have spoken with one voice and it is my appeal to President Mugabe that he should take heed of this clarion resign so that the country can move forward and preserve his legacy,” Mnangagwa said in a statement.

In the draft impeachment motion, the ruling ZANU-PF party said Mugabe is a “source of instability”, flouting the rule of law and presiding over an “unprecedented economic tailspin” in the last 15 years.

It also said Mugabe had abused his constitutional mandate to favour his wife Grace. On 18 November, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Harare to celebrate the ruler's impending fall.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 22, 2017 06:49:51 IST