For the first time in 37 years, Zimbabwe will have a new president because Robert Mugabe has resigned, saying that his decision was voluntary and being done to create a smooth transition of power.
The 93-year-old Mugabe’s resignation came as a shock to many despite the fact that calls for him to step down had intensified in the past few days, including a military takeover and protest. Mugabe’s resignation immediately halted impeachment hearings that had begun in order to put the embattled president out of office, the BBC reports.
Mugabe’s resignation, which was written and presented to Parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda, didn’t immediately state who would take over for the now-former president, who had been in power since 1980.
The BBC reports that based on Zimbabwe’s constitution, current Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Mugabe’s wife, Grace, should be the next in line to hold power, but many believe that former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Grace Mugabe’s chief rival and a man whose firing last month led to the current crisis, will be the next president.
Robert Mugabe’s resignation “provides Zimbabwe with an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterized his rule,” United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May told the BBC.
A new leader is expected to take over the presidency by Wednesday, the news site reports.
The BBC notes that while Mugabe had won elections that had kept him in power for 37 years, the past 15 years of his reign had been marred by violence against his opponents.
Here’s how the news site describes Mugabe’s final weeks in power:.
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.
His dismissal of Mr. Mnangagwa two weeks ago was seen by many as clearing the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader.
It riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Mr. Mugabe under house arrest.
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.”
Yet despite huge demonstrations in the streets celebrating what seemed like his impending demise, Robert Mugabe had until now refused to step down.
Read more at the BBC.