After ruling Zimbabwe for 37 years, Robert Mugabe has submitted his resignation as president in a letter to parliament.
The news marking the end of an era sparked celebrations in the capital, Harare.
Soldiers on November 15 took control of the headquarters of the state broadcaster ZBC and blocked access to government offices, but the army – despite putting Mugabe under house arrest – says this is not a military takeover.
The crisis came amid an apparent bid to expand the Mugabe dynasty. First Lady Grace Mugabe was said to be eyeing the vice presidency after Mugabe sacked Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army, on November 6.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Mr Mugabe’s resignation “provides Zimbabwe with an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterised his rule”.
She said that former colonial power Britain, “as Zimbabwe’s oldest friend”, will do all it can to support free and fair elections and the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC he hoped that Zimbabwe was on a “new trajectory” that would include free and fair elections. He said Mr Mugabe should be allowed to “go and rest for his last days”.
In other reaction:
- The US Embassy in Harare, the capital, said it was a “historic moment” and congratulated Zimbabweans who “raised their voices and stated peacefully and clearly that the time for change was overdue”
- South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed the move, saying Mr Mugabe had turned from “liberator to dictator”
- Prominent Zimbabwean opposition politician David Coltart tweeted: “We have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny”
- Civil society group the Platform for Concerned Citizens called for dialogue between all political parties, which it said should lead to the formation of a national transitional authority
Robert Mugabe won elections during his 37 years in power, but over the past 15 years these were marred by violence against political opponents. With Mugabe out many youth feel a new sense of positivity.