Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president on Tuesday, shortly after parliament began an impeachment process to end his nearly four decades of rule.
The 93-year old clung on for a week after an army takeover and expulsion from his own ruling ZANU-PF party, which also told him to leave power.
“I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation… with immediate effect,” said parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda, reading the letter.
The bombshell news was delivered to a special joint session of parliament.
Lawmakers had convened to debate a motion to impeach Mugabe, who has dominated every aspect of Zimbabwean public life since independence in 1980.
Thousands of Zimbabweans poured onto the streets of Harare after President Robert Mugabe resigned on Tuesday, and cars were hooting in the streets.
Some people were holding posters of Zimbabwean army chief Constantino Chiwenga and former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose sacking this month triggered the military takeover that forced Mugabe to resign.
Mnangagwa, formerly one of Mugabe’s closest allies, said in a statement that Zimbabweans had “clearly demonstrated without violence their insatiable desire” for Mugabe to resign.
Mubenda authorised a joint session of the House of Assembly and the Senate to debate a motion to impeach the man who is the only leader most Zimbabweans have ever known.
“This motion is unprecedented in the history of post-independence Zimbabwe,” he declared.
A bubbling factional squabble over the presidential succession erupted two weeks ago when Mugabe fired Mnangagwa.
The dismissal put Mugabe’s wife Grace in prime position to succeed her ageing husband, prompting the military to step in to block her path to the presidency.
After Mnangagwa fled abroad, the army took over the country and placed Mugabe under house arrest — provoking amazement and delight among many Zimbabweans as his autocratic reign appeared close to an end.
Mugabe is feted in parts of Africa as the continent’s last surviving independence leader, having played a key role in the liberation struggle and becoming prime minister in 1980 on a wave of goodwill.
His reputation was swiftly tarnished, however, by authoritarianism, rights abuses and economic policies.
His rule has been defined by economic collapse and international isolation.