Robert Mugabe resigns: parliament speaker

The announcement Mr Mugabe was being removed as leader drew cheers from the 200 delegates packed into Zanu-PF's Harare headquarters

The announcement Mr Mugabe was being removed as leader drew cheers from the 200 delegates packed into Zanu-PF's Harare headquarters

Zimbabweans were stunned by Mugabe's defiance during a national address Sunday night in which the increasingly isolated president, put under military house arrest last week, had been expected to step down.

The speaker read a letter reportedly from Mugabe, in which he said he was resigning immediately and voluntarily in an effort to ensure a "smooth transfer of power", according to the Associated Press. Emmerson Mnangagwa was named the party's new leader, making him the frontrunner to succeed the 93-year-old Mugabe as president.

Mnangagwa's reinstatement paves the way for a takeover as either the country's interim president once parliament impeaches Mugabe.

He said the ruling ZANU-PF party needs the backing of the MDC opposition group to have enough votes in Parliament but "we have talked to them and they are supporting us". It would all soon be over, he said.

Cde Chinamasa continued: "That members of the cabal, namely Cde Mphoko, (Saviour) Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo, Ignatius Chombo, Patrick Zhuwao, Letina Undenge, Grace Mugabe, Kudzanai Chipanga, Walter Mzembi, Paul Chimedza, Makhosini Hlongwane, Anastancia Ndlovu, Mandi Chimene, Dr Samuel Undenge, Sarah Mahoka, Mtehlabayo Malinga, Xavier Kazizi, Tongai Kasukuwere and Innocent Hamandishe, Eunice Sandi Moyo and Shadreck Mashayamombe be expelled from the party". The resolution also goes to restore him to his position as a member of the Central Committee.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said between the sessions that his party supports impeaching the president. If Robert Mugabe digs in and his health holds up, it could take weeks of wrangling before any successor can legitimately take over. This is especially so if your target is a stubborn old man, with a law degree to his name and your goal, as the organisers of last week's military takeover have stated, is to remain within the confines of a constitution created to protect the president from arbitrary removal.

Mnangagwa served for decades as Mugabe's enforcer, with a reputation for being astute and ruthless, more feared than popular.

That is highly unlikely. This allows for a simple majority of the Senate and National Assembly to set up a cross-party committee to investigate the president's removal on grounds that he has failed to uphold the constitution or is unable to perform his functions.

Zanu-PF Secretary for Information Cde Simon Khaya Moyo said the meeting also resolved that Cde Mnangagwa should be the party's Presidential candidate for next year's harmonised elections.

However, J. Peter Pham, an Africa expert at the council, noted that some Zimbabwean opposition figures have appeared willing to have dialogue with Mnangagwa in order to move the country forward and that the global community should consider doing the same.

The marchers were also led to State House and then to Mugabe's official residence, a place that has, until yesterday, been sealed off to the public eye.

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