After being removed from his own political party, Robert Mugabe, the longtime dictator of Zimbabwe, has agreed to resign from office, sources in the country’s military conformed today.
Mugabe, 93, was the target of a military coup attempt last week, which was triggered by the ruler’s firing of his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, earlier this month.
The military then took control of Harare, the capital city, and placed Mugabe under house arrest, UN observers said. Maj. General SB Moyo announced on state media that “we are only targeting criminals around [Mugabe] who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”
Mugabe, who served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987, when he became President, clung to power while being detained, as a firestorm erupted within his own ruling ZANU-PF party, and tanks rumbled through Harare’s streets.
The party warned Mugabe early this morning, that he had until noon local time tomorrow to leave office, which many believed he was holding onto so his wife, Grace, could succeed him, or face impeachment by Zimbabwe’s parliament.
The elderly leader’s reign would end, officials said, with a televised address to the nation tomorrow afternoon. Zimbabwe went through economic decline and social upheavals during Mugabe’s tenure as leader, including crises over land use seizures and resulting famines.
Mugabe was ardently homophobic, levying extreme punishments on gay citizens, and declaring “gays are guilty of sub-human behavior“. He enjoyed considerable staying power, however, surviving a coup attempt in 1999 involving 23 high-ranking military officers, who were subsequently captured and tortured, along with several Daily Standard (UK) journalists who reported the uprising against the government’s wishes. Because of these activities and widespread financial mismanagement, the IMF voted later that year to stop sending aid to the Central African nation.
The Trump administration declined to comment on the political situation in Zimbabwe, and Mnangagwa is expected to become President after election next month as the head of ZANU-PF.