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 letter does not however mention of who he was leaving in charge of the country. The speaker added that he was working on legal issues to make sure a new leader was in place by the end of Wednesday.
The bombshell news was delivered to a special joint session of parliament.
People danced and car horns blared on the streets of Harare at news that the era of Mugabe – who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 – was finally over.
Some people held posters of Zimbabwean army chief General 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
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 the only leader Zimbabwe has known since a guerrilla struggle ended white-minority rule in the former Rhodesia.
During his reign, he took the once-rich country to economic ruin and kept his grip on power through repression of opponents, although he styled himself as the Grand Man of African politics and kept the admiration of many people across Africa.