Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday described the resignation of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a “historic moment” for the state, while calling the leadership change “overdue.”
“With the resignation of Robert Mugabe, today marks a historic moment for Zimbabwe,” Tillerson said in a statement.
“We congratulate all Zimbabweans who raised their voices and stated peacefully and clearly that the time for change was overdue, Zimbabwe has an extraordinary opportunity to set itself on a new path,” he continued.
Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for 37 years, made the announcement to step down from his top role earlier in the day amid impeachment proceedings being carried out in Zimbabwe’s Parliament.
He had initially refused the request of his own party to do so over the weekend, that had warned in an ultimatum to begin the proceedings if he did not step down by Monday.
Members of the political party ZANU-PF ousted Mugabe and appointed former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as their new leader on Sunday, a move that came after Mugabe caused an uproar earlier this month when he fired Mnangagwa and indicated that he would instead transfer power to his wife, Grace Mugabe.
The announcement prompted Zimbabwe’s military leadership to act by placing Mugabe under house arrest.
Tillerson also urged Zimbabwe’s leaders to begin taking steps towards democratizing and establishing “free and fair elections.
“Whatever short-term arrangements the government may establish, the path forward must lead to free and fair elections. The people of Zimbabwe must choose their own leaders,” his statement said in part.
“We urge Zimbabwe’s leaders to implement much-needed political and economic reforms for a more stable and promising future for the Zimbabwean people. We will continue to support the people of Zimbabwe as these reforms move forward,” he continued, while calling “on all parties to exercise restraint and respect constitutional and civilian order.”
Posted in: World