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Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe looks on during a rally marking Zimbabwe's 32nd independence anniversary celebrations in Harare April 18, 2012.REUTERS/Stringer (ZIMBABWE - Tags: POLITICS ANNIVERSARY) - RTR30W6H

Robert Mugabe resigns, ending 37-year rule

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has resigned, bringing an end to 37 years of rule and sparking jubilant celebrations in the nation’s streets.

A letter from Mr Mugabe read out by the speaker of parliament said the decision was voluntary and he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power.

The news abruptly halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him.

The ruling Zanu-PF party says former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Mr Mugabe, in power since 1980.

Mr Mnangagwa’s sacking earlier this month triggered a political crisis.

It had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest.

After the resignation announcement, lawmakers roared in jubilation.

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