Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s President, ending 37-year rule

Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s President, ending 37-year rule

November 21, 2017   09:46 pm

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Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, resigned as president on Tuesday shortly after lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against him, according to the speaker of Parliament.

The speaker of Parliament read out a letter in which Mr. Mugabe said he was stepping down “with immediate effect” for “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power.”

Parliament erupted into cheers and jubilant residents poured into the streets of Harare, the capital. It seemed to be an abrupt capitulation by Mr. Mugabe, who had refused to step down only two days earlier, when his former political party, ZANU-PF, formally expelled him.

Then on Tuesday, members of the governing party introduced a motion of impeachment, invoking a constitutional process that had never before been tested.

The party’s historic political rival, the Movement for Democratic Change, seconded the motion, a striking sign of the consensus in the political class that Mr. Mugabe must go — a consensus that formed with astonishing speed after the military took Mr. Mugabe into custody last Wednesday, signaling an end to his 37-year rule.

The next step was for Parliament to form a committee to investigate the motion’s allegations that Mr. Mugabe violated the Constitution; that he allowed his wife, Grace, to usurp power; and that, at 93, he is too old to fulfill his duties. Debate on the motion had begun when the speaker suddenly interrurpted the proceedings to read what he said was a letter of resignation delivered by Mr. Mugabe’s representatives.

ZANU-PF had expelled Mr. Mugabe as its leader on Sunday, but Mr. Mugabe stunned the nation that evening with a televised address in which he refused to step down. Pressure from within the country and from abroad had been building on Mr. Mugabe to resign, but observers had warned that the country might have to brace itself for lengthy impeachment proceedings.

Greg Linington, a constitutional law expert at the University of Zimbabwe, said that the Constitution did not stipulate a time frame for impeachment, and that a thorough process could take weeks or months. Mr. Mugabe should be given the right to reply and time to prepare, Mr. Linington said.

The next step was for Parliament to form a committee to investigate the motion’s allegations that Mr. Mugabe violated the Constitution; that he allowed his wife, Grace, to usurp power; and that, at 93, he is too old to fulfill his duties. Debate on the motion had begun when the speaker suddenly interrurpted the proceedings to read what he said was a letter of resignation delivered by Mr. Mugabe’s representatives.

ZANU-PF had expelled Mr. Mugabe as its leader on Sunday, but Mr. Mugabe stunned the nation that evening with a televised address in which he refused to step down. Pressure from within the country and from abroad had been building on Mr. Mugabe to resign, but observers had warned that the country might have to brace itself for lengthy impeachment proceedings.

Greg Linington, a constitutional law expert at the University of Zimbabwe, said that the Constitution did not stipulate a time frame for impeachment, and that a thorough process could take weeks or months. Mr. Mugabe should be given the right to reply and time to prepare, Mr. Linington said.

Mr. Mnangagwa’s words, as well as his continued absence, appeared to be part of an effort by his allies to distance him from last week’s military intervention and to portray it as a reflection of the popular will. The army stepped in two days after the president attempted to arrest the country’s top military commander, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, a close ally of Mr. Mnangagwa.

Source: New York Times

-Agencies 

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