US says Mugabe departure is ‘historic opportunity’ for Zimbabwe

US says Mugabe departure is ‘historic opportunity’ for Zimbabwe

The Latest on Zimbabwe’s political turmoil (all times local):

11:25 p.m.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the people of Zimbabwe want a “new era” and an end to international isolation after the resignation of Robert Mugabe as president.

Nauert says the U.S. is unsure what arrangements will be made for governing Zimbabwe in the short term. But she says there should ultimately be “free and fair elections.” She says the U.S. is urging “unwavering respect for the rule of law and for established democratic practices.”

Nauert is declining to say whether the process that led to Mugabe’s ouster constitutes a coup. But she says Mugabe ultimately decided to resign after impeachment proceedings.


Zimbabweans celebrate Robert Mugabe’s resignation after 37 years of rule, in Harare on Tuesday.

11:15 p.m.

The African Union Commission chairman says Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe will be remembered “as a fearless pan-Africanist liberation fighter and the father of the independent Zimbabwean nation.”

The statement by Moussa Faki Mahamat welcomes Mugabe’s decision to resign after 37 years in power.

“Today’s decision will go down in history as an act of statesmanship that can only bolster President Mugabe’s political legacy.”

Mugabe is a former chairman of the continental body.

The AU statement recognizes that the Zimbabwean people “have expressed their will.”


Zimbabweans celebrate in Harare, Tuesday, Nov, 21, 2017, after the resignation of President Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says he is resigning immediately and voluntarily in order to have a “smooth transfer of power” after 37 years in charge. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

10:45 p.m.

The Zimbabwe pastor who last year led the country’s largest anti-government protests in a decade says “I can’t stop crying” after the resignation of Robert Mugabe as president.

Evan Mawarire tweeted as residents of the capital, Harare, poured into the streets after Mugabe’s resignation letter was read out in Parliament in the middle of impeachment proceedings.

People immediately started taking down official portraits of Mugabe, who led for 37 years.

Former government minister David Coltart says on Twitter that “this is the first time that Robert Mugabe has made Zimbabweans universally happy since independence.”

He echoes concerns by some about the incoming leader, Mugabe’s longtime deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, saying that “we have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny. But we thank God for this day.”


People holding Zimbabwean flags celebrate in the street after the resignation of Zimbabwe’s president on November 21, 2017 in Harare.
Car horns blared and cheering crowds raced through the streets of the Zimbabwean capital Harare as news spread that President Robert Mugabe, 93, had resigned after 37 years in power. / AFP PHOTO / Marco Longari (Photo credit should read MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

9:40 p.m.

Human rights groups are urging Zimbabwe to respect the rule of law as the country shifts into an era without Robert Mugabe.

Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty says in a statement that the people of Zimbabwe deserve better “after more than three decades of violent repression.”

Shetty says that during Mugabe’s 37 years in power, “tens of thousands of people were tortured, forcibly disappeared or killed. President Mugabe condoned human rights violations, defended criminal actions of his officials and allowed a culture of impunity for grotesque crimes to thrive.”

Some Zimbabweans and observers are watching with concern as Mugabe’s longtime deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa is poised to be sworn in within the next day.


Zimbabwe’s members of Parliament celebrate after Mugabe’s resignation.

9:10 p.m.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Robert Mugabe was “a despot who impoverished his country” and his exit is a “moment of joy” for Zimbabwe.

Johnson says he hopes Mugabe’s resignation will be a turning point and that there should now be “free and fair democratic elections and above all not a transition from one despotic rule to another.”

Johnson says Mugabe played a major role in the creation of an independent Zimbabwe but had “allowed that legacy to be squandered and his country went, I’m afraid, to wrack and ruin.”

Asked if Mugabe and his wife, Grace, should face justice, Johnson says: “That is a decision for the people of Zimbabwe.”

Britain is the former colonial power.


9 p.m.

The deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general says Antonio Guterres is encouraging all Zimbabweans to “maintain calm and restraint” after the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

Farhan Haq also says any analysis of the developments is up to journalists.

He says that “the secretary-general and his predecessors have made clear that we expect all leaders to listen to their people. That is a cornerstone of every form of government and needs to be followed in every continent and in every nation.”


8:45 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s military commander is warning people not to target old adversaries following the resignation of President Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power.

“Acts of vengeful retribution or trying to settle scores will be dealt with severely,” Gen. Constantino Chiwenga said Tuesday.

The military stepped in last week to put Mugabe under house arrest, in a move that unleashed nationwide calls for the president to step down.

There was no immediate word from the military on the operation it also mounted against what it called “criminals” close to the unpopular first lady.

Mugabe’s firing of his deputy and positioning of Grace Mugabe to succeed him led the military to step in.


8:10 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster is announcing the resignation of President Robert Mugabe more than two hours after the news was announced in Parliament during impeachment proceedings.

The broadcaster had been running normally scheduled programming and was showing an agriculture show when the news broke.

The nightly newscast says a new leader could be sworn in within 24 hours.

It reports “wild cheers and jubilation” in the streets and shows footage of crowds dancing in the capital, Harare.


7:35 p.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe says the resignation of President Robert Mugabe “marks an historic moment” for the country and congratulates all Zimbabweans who raised their voices.

The new statement says that “whatever short-term arrangements the government may establish, the path forward must lead to free, fair and inclusive elections.”

The United States also urges “unwavering respect for the rule of law.”

The U.S. in 2003 imposed targeted sanctions, a travel ban and an asset freeze against Mugabe and close associates, citing his government’s rights abuses and evidence of electoral fraud.


6:40 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says the resignation of President Robert Mugabe gives Zimbabwe “an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterized his rule.”

The British leader says the Zimbabwean people have shown they want “free and fair elections and the opportunity to rebuild the country’s economy under a legitimate government.”

May says Britain — the former colonial power — is “Zimbabwe’s oldest friend” and will “help the country achieve the brighter future it so deserves.”

Mugabe resigned Tuesday, after 37 years in power, as Zimbabwe’s parliament was preparing to impeach him.

— Jill Lawless in London.


6:30 p.m.

The streets of Zimbabwe’s capital have erupted in dancing, singing, honking and cheers after President Robert Mugabe announced his immediate resignation after 37 years in power.

The announcement came in the middle of Parliament impeachment proceedings and after a massive demonstration in Harare over the weekend. Frustration spilled over in the once-prosperous southern African nation after the economy collapsed and Mugabe’s government cracked down on opposition.

A ruling party official says recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to take power within two days.

Activists and others are greeting the extraordinary end of Mugabe’s time in power with tears. The world’s oldest head of state had vowed to rule until death.


6:15 p.m.

A Zimbabwe ruling party official tells The Associated Press that recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will take over as the country’s leader within 48 hours after President Robert Mugabe resigned.

Ruling party chief whip Lovemore Matuke says Mnangagwa, who fled the country after his firing, “is not far from here.”

The official spoke to the AP immediately after the Parliament speaker announced Mugabe’s immediate resignation during impeachment proceedings.

Matuke says they look forward to Mugabe doing the handover of power “so that Mnangagwa moves with speed to work for the country.”


6 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says he is resigning immediately and voluntarily in order to have a “smooth transfer of power” after 37 years in charge.

The letter was read out in a cheering, dancing Parliament, which had been pursuing impeachment of the 93-year-old Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state.

The resignation comes at the end of a week of extraordinary events that began with the military moving in last week, angered by Mugabe’s firing of his longtime deputy and the positioning of the unpopular first lady to succeed him.

Impeachment allegations against Mugabe included that he “allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power” and that he is “of advanced age” and too incapacitated to rule.

Mugabe also was accused of allowing unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to threaten to kill the recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other officials.


5:55 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s Parliament has erupted in cheers as the speaker announces the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

The speaker stopped impeachment proceedings to say they had received a letter from Mugabe with the resignation “with immediate effect.”

It is an extraordinary end for the world’s oldest head of state after 37 years in power.


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  1. you see the people have a voice and i think leaders should listen to the voice of the people cause they are the country thats why i will always believe this dictatorship thing is nonsense. not one person had a good thing to say about mugabe.

    to his son that post pouring a bottle of champagne on a watch that costs thousands of US dollars and said" when your daddy runs the country" i want to see what you will do now since "your daddy" no longer runs the country.


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