Wild celebrations have continued on the streets of Zimbabwe, with people dancing and singing well into the night following Robert Mugabe’s resignation.
Welcome to the new Zimbabwe! people chanted outside the Harare conference centre where MPs had earlier met to start impeachment proceedings.
This is the best day of my life, said one man, as people celebrated on cars and crowded round tanks to shake hands with the soldiers lauded for their role in getting rid of the reviled leader.
We didn’t fight the 1980 war but we fought the 2017 war and we are happy that Mugabe is gone and he’s gone for good. Happy new Zimbabwe, said another Harare resident.
Zimbabweans in other countries also celebrated the downfall of their long-time leader.
A crowd gathered outside the country’s embassy in London, with people jumping up and down, waving flags and talking of national joy and a new hope.
Zimbabweans living in South Africa took to the streets of Johannesburg and some were pictured burning shirts of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Mr Mugabe announced his resignation with immediate effect on Tuesday afternoon.
There was jubilation as a resignation letter was read out in the country’s parliament, where impeachment proceedings against the ruler had begun.
The 93-year-old said he had chosen to step down to ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power, and that he had made the decision voluntarily.
Exiled vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa is due to land in Zimbabwe at 1.30pm (11.30am UK time) and is later expected to be sworn in as President.
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said Zimbabwe had an extraordinary opportunity to set itself on a new path, while British PM Theresa May said it could forge a new path free of the oppression that characterised (Mugabe’s) rule.
Mr Mugabe’s announcement sparked ecstatic scenes in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, where protesters had gathered to call for him to be removed from office.
Emmerson Mnangagwa told NewsDay: I want to congratulate the people of Zimbabwe on reaching this historic moment.
Together, we will ensure a peaceful transition to the consolidation of our democracy, and bring in a fresh start for all Zimbabweans and foster peace and unity.
Earlier this month, Mr Mugabe sparked the political crisis which ended his dictatorship by sacking Mr Mnangagwa – paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him.
Military chiefs reacted by taking control of the capital, seizing the state broadcaster and placing Mr Mugabe under house arrest.
The ruler initially refused to stand down and told Zimbabweans in a televised address they must learn to forgive.
But he was forced to face impeachment proceedings amid claims he allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power and had been seen sleeping in cabinet and international meetings – bringing horror and shame to Zimbabweans.
Mr Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 and his departure leaves the Queen as the world’s oldest head of state.
Under his presidency, the southern African country’s economy collapsed and unemployment rose to more than 90%.
The 93-year-old has been accused of a range of human rights abuses, including denying food aid to areas supporting the opposition.
He has also faced repeated accusations of election vote rigging and intimidation – in 2008 a violent campaign against supporters of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai saw scores killed and thousands displaced.
Chris Mutsvangwa, leader of Zimbabwe’s war veterans group, described Mr Mugabe’s resignation as the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May said: In recent days we have seen the desire of the Zimbabwean people for free and fair elections and the opportunity to rebuild the country’s economy under a legitimate government.
As Zimbabwe’s oldest friend we will do all we can to support this, working with our international and regional partners to help the country achieve the brighter future it so deserves.