Zimbabwe’s ruling party dismissed President Robert Mugabe on Sunday, ending his 37-year reign as the African country’s leader.
Recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was appointed as the new leader of the ZANU-PF party. Senior figures of the party gathered early Sunday for an emergency meeting of the party’s Central Committee to discuss calls to expel the 93-year-old leader. First lady Grace Mugabe was also recalled as head of the women’s league.
“If Mugabe is not gone by Tuesday, then as sure as the sun rises from the east, impeachment process will kick in,” said Innocent Gonese, a member of the opposition MDC-T party.
Mugabe remained under house arrest with his wife and initially resisted calls to step aside. Vast throngs of demonstrators turned Zimbabwe’s capital into a carnival ground on Saturday in a peaceful outpouring of disdain for their longtime leader and calls for him to quit immediately. People in Harare clambered onto tanks and other military vehicles moving slowly through the crowds, danced around soldiers walking in city streets and surged in the thousands toward the building where Mugabe held official functions.
“The old man should be allowed to rest,” former Zimbabwe finance minister and activist Tendai Biti told South African broadcaster eNCA.
On Friday, all 10 of the provincial branches of the Zanu-PF party demanded Mugabe’s resignation.
Meeting chair Obert Mpofu said party members were gathering with “a heavy heart” because Mugabe had served the country and contributed “many memorable achievements.” However, he added that the leader’s wife “and close associates have taken advantage of his frail condition” to loot national resources.
Mugabe’s decision to fire his deputy set in motion his abrupt fall from power. The move appeared to position the first lady, Grace Mugabe, to replace Mnangagwa as one of the country’s two vice presidents at a party conference next month.
But the 52-year-old first lady is unpopular among many Zimbabweans for her lavish spending on mansions, cars and jewels. Last month she went to court to sue a diamond dealer for not supplying her with a 100-carat diamond that she said she had paid for.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.