Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe resigned on Tuesday in a letter submitted to parliament, Speaker Jacob Mudenda said.
Wild jubilation broke out among MPs when Mudenda told the House.
Lawmakers began the historic impeachment debate shortly after ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who could be the country’s next leader, told the 93-year-old Mugabe to step down.
Mnangagwa, formerly one of Mugabe’s closest allies, said in a statement that Zimbabweans had “clearly demonstrated without violence their insatiable desire” for Mugabe to resign.
Mubenda authorised a joint session of the House of Assembly and the Senate to debate a motion to impeach the man who is the only leader most Zimbabweans have ever known.
“This motion is unprecedented in the history of post-independence Zimbabwe,” he declared.
A bubbling factional squabble over the presidential succession erupted two weeks ago when Mugabe fired Mnangagwa.
The dismissal put Mugabe’s wife Grace in prime position to succeed her ageing husband, prompting the military to step in to block her path to the presidency.
After Mnangagwa fled abroad, the army took over the country and placed Mugabe under house arrest — provoking amazement and delight among many Zimbabweans as his autocratic reign appeared close to an end.
Mugabe is feted in parts of Africa as the continent’s last surviving independence leader, having played a key role in the liberation struggle and becoming prime minister in 1980 on a wave of goodwill.
His reputation was swiftly tarnished, however, by authoritarianism, rights abuses and economic policies.
His rule has been defined by economic collapse and international isolation.