Zimbabwe’s ruling party fired President Robert Mugabe as its leader, a move that will effectively bring an end to his 37-year rule over the southern African nation.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s central committee in the capital, Harare, on Sunday. Emmerson Mnangagwa was named the party’s new leader, making him the frontrunner to succeed the 93-year-old Mugabe as president.
Mugabe, who could be impeached should he refuse to step down, triggered his own demise by firing Mnangagwa as his vice president earlier this month, a move that prompted the military to intervene and place him under house arrest. Seeing the likelihood of his removal, joyous crowds turned out in Harare and Bulawayo -- Zimbabwe’s second-largest city -- on Saturday to celebrate.
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On Mugabe’s watch, Zimbabwe has become steadily more impoverished. The economy has halved in size since 2000, there are chronic shortages of cash and food and the country’s main labor-union organization estimates that 95 percent of the workforce are unemployed.
Mugabe’s decision to fire his long-time ally Mnangagwa could have paved the way for his 52-year-old wife Grace and her supporters from a ruling-party faction known as the G-40 to gain control of the nation. Nicknamed “Gucci Grace” in Zimbabwe for her extravagant lifestyle, she said on Nov. 5 that she would be prepared to succeed her husband. The party has now resolved that she should be expelled from its ranks.
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Updates with decision to expel Grace Mugabe in final paragraph.
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