Update: During a small roundtable with State Department reporters late Monday, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto urged the Zimbabwe military to implement “real, genuine, economic [and] political reforms" and to ensure elections scheduled to be helpd next year are fair and transparent.
The message came hours before Zimbabwe's parliament speaker announced President Robert Mugabe had resigned Tuesday.
Yamamoto said the international community wants to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe and see the country, once an economic success story, become a pillar of stability on the continent, according to VOA News.
The way for Washington to lift sanctions is for Harare to carry out the due process, to respect human rights, and to give the opposition a genuine opportunity to form a government.
“What we don’t want is a manipulation by the government or by the ruling ZANU-PF party - holding rush elections, not taking into consideration a lot of the reform issues that the opposition wants to implement; also, not giving political space for Zimbabwe people for them to express what they want to see in a new government," Yamamoto said.
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas has been meeting with officials from ZANU-PF party and the opposition party behind the scenes to try and help push the political process forward.
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Zimbabwe’s Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda had barely finished reading the rules and regulations of how impeachment proceedings would proceed against President Robert Mugabe when the 93-year-old leader and former revolutionary surprised his colleagues by officially resigning the presidency – something he had been reluctant to do even after the military placed him under house arrest last week.
Both Reuters and the Associated Press confirmed that Mugabe had resigned, citing an announcement made by Mudenda.
BREAKING: President Robert Mugabe has resigned, Speaker of Parliament confirms— Zim Media Review (@ZimMediaReview) November 21, 2017
"I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation... with immediate effect," said speaker Mudenda, reading Mugabe's letter.
"My decision to resign was voluntary on my part."
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.
Mugabe’s resignation came days after the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party fired him as its leader and ordered him to step down. In his place, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, who Mugabe dismissed as vice president earlier this month, will take over as interim leader and the leader of ZANU-PF, the country's ruling party. Mnangawa will also be ZANU's candidate in presidential elections next year, the party said.
Drama! Drama!— Zim Media Review (@ZimMediaReview) November 21, 2017
As The Speaker was presiding over the impeachment, Justice Minister Bonyongwe interrupted him, carrying a letter. Speaker Mudenda then asked MPs to excuse him. They grumbled.
But this was it. He announced the letter had come. Mugabe has resigned!
Mugabe came to power in 1980 after Zimbabwe gained its independence from the UK. He was ousted earlier this month after he fired Mnangagwa and appointed his much-younger wife, Grace, 52, in his stead. Mugabe, it was widely believed, was positioning Grace to succeed him as ruler of Zimbabwe.
Once an shining example of economic progress, Zimbabwe's economy began crumbling in the early 2000s as Mugabe seized land from white farmers and turned it over to friends of his government. The country's currency experienced a hyperinflationary spiral that rendered the savings of millions of Zimbabweans worthless. The recent unrest has sent many Zimbabweans scrambling to buy bitcoin, which recently traded at $13,000 on Golix, the country's primary bitcoin exchange. That's a more than 50% premium over its global price. Bitcoin's global price of around $8,000.
Mugabe baffled many of his countrymen on Monday when he refused to resign during a widely watched public address, insisting instead that he would lead the next Congress. In response, both opposition and Zanu-PF lawmakers said they would immediately begin impeachment proceedings.
The president furnished his resignation after only three cabinet ministers showed up for a cabinet meeting he called for Tuesday.
The BBC tweeted footage of Mudenda reading Mugabe's resignation letter aloud: