Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has resigned, bringing an end to 37 years of rule and sparking jubilant celebrations in the nation’s streets.
A letter from Mr Mugabe read out by the speaker of parliament said the decision was voluntary and he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power.
The news abruptly halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him.
The ruling Zanu-PF party says former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Mr Mugabe, in power since 1980.
Mr Mnangagwa’s sacking earlier this month triggered a political crisis.
It had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest.
After the resignation announcement, lawmakers roared in jubilation.
Mr Mugabe, 93, was until his resignation the world’s oldest leader. He had previously refused to quit despite last week’s military takeover and days of protests.
According to the constitution his successor should be the current vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe.
But Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told Reuters news agency that Mr Mnangagwa would be in office “within 48 hours”.
Speaking from an undisclosed location earlier on Tuesday, Mr Mnangagwa said he had fled abroad two weeks ago when he learned of a plot to kill him.
Robert Mugabe won elections during his 37 years in power, but over the past 15 years these were marred by violence against political opponents.
He presided over a deepening economic crisis in Zimbabwe, where people are on average 15% poorer now than they were in 1980.
However, Mr Mugabe was not forced out after decades in power by a popular mass movement but rather as a result of political splits within his Zanu-PF party.
The leader of the influential liberation war veterans – former allies of Mr Mugabe – said after the army takeover that Mr Mugabe was a “dictator”, who “as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife”.
BBC News Africa•November 21, 2017