Robert Mugabe resigned as president after 37 years in power

Vastavam web: Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe resigned as president with immediate effect today after 37 years in power, shortly after parliament began impeachment proceedings against him.”My decision to resign is voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for a smooth, non-violent transfer of power,” said Mugabe in his letter which was read out in parliament, sparking cheers and dancing.Cars began honking horns and people cheered in the streets as the news spread like wildfire across the capital, Harare.

Mugabe, who had been the world’s oldest head of state at 93, said that proper procedures should be followed to install new leadership.Mugabe’s resignation brought an end to the impeachment proceedings brought by the ruling ZANU-PF party after its Central Committee voted to oust the president as party leader and select Mnangagwa as his replacement.Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC party said the culture of the ruling party “must end” and everyone must put their heads together and work toward free and fair elections.

Earlier today, Mnangagwa said in a statement that Mugabe should acknowledge the nation’s “insatiable desire” for a leadership change and resign immediately.Mnangagwa added to immense pressure on Mugabe to quit after nearly four decades in power, during which he evolved from a champion of the fight against white minority rule into a figure blamed for a collapsing economy, government dysfunction and human rights violations.Mnangagwa, who fled the country and has not appeared in public during the past week’s political turmoil, said Mugabe had invited him to return to Zimbabwe “for a discussion” on recent events. However, he said he will not return for now, alleging that there had been plans to kill him at the time of his firing.

“I will be returning as soon as the right conditions for security and stability prevail,” said Mnangagwa, who has a loyal support base in the military. “Never should the nation be held at ransom by one person ever again, whose desire is to die in office at whatever cost to the nation.” Mnangagwa was targeted by US sanctions in the early 2000s for undermining democratic development in Zimbabwe, according to the Atlantic Council, a US-based policy institute.

However, J Peter Pham, an Africa expert at the council, noted that some Zimbabwean opposition figures have appeared willing to have dialogue with Mnangagwa in order to move the country forward and that the international community should consider doing the same.”We’re not saying whitewash the past, but it is in the interests of everyone that Zimbabwe is engaged at this critical time,” Pham said in a statement.Impeachment proceedings began days after huge crowds surged through the capital, Harare, to demand that Mugabe quit.