Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, who had been in power since independence in 1980 resigned as president on Tuesday shortly after the country’s lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against him.
The speaker of the Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, 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.”
There was wild jubilation among the Lawmakers and citizens of the country as residents poured into the streets of Harare, the capital. It seemed to be an abrupt surrender by Mr. Mugabe, 93, the world’s oldest head of state and one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Zimbabwe,” said a resident who was identified as Perseverance Sande, 20 minutes after news of the resignation began spreading.
New York Times wrote that Mugabe, who controlled the nation by handing out the spoils of power to his allies and crushing dissent, had refused to step down even after being expelled on Sunday from ZANU-PF, the political party he had led for four decades.
Then on Tuesday, party members introduced a motion of impeachment, invoking a constitutional process that had never before been tested.
The party’s 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 — one that formed with astonishing speed after the military took Mr. Mugabe into custody last Wednesday.
Lawmakers were still discussing the impeachment motion when Mr. Mugabe’s justice minister, Happyton Bonyongwe, walked up to the stage. He was booed, because of a rumor that he had been offering bribes to sway votes against impeachment. Then he whispered into the ear of Mr. Mudenda, the speaker, and handed him a letter.
Calling the lawmakers to order, the speaker announced that he had received an urgent communication from the president. As the crowd grew quiet, Mr. Mudenda — with a wide smile across his face — read out the letter.
Lawmakers immediately screamed and shouted. Once-bitter rivals from ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change shook hands and hugged.
Even Mr. Mugabe’s closest allies appeared taken aback. Reached by telephone, George Charamba, the president’s longtime spokesman, declined to comment, saying only, “I’m concerned about the stability of my country.”