Robert Mugabe resigns: World reaction

Leaders from across the world have reacted to Robert Mugabe’s resignation, who led Zimbabwe for 37 years.

FILE PHOTO - File photo of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe watching a video presentation during SADC in Johannesburg
Robert Mugabe led Zimbabwe's fight for independence in the 1970s [File: Reuters]

The resignation of Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe has resonated across the region and the wider international community.

The veteran leader, 93, led his country from independence in 1980 until November 21, 2017.

He was the world’s oldest head of state.

Mugabe’s departure came days after a surprise military takeover, amid a power struggle within the ruling ZANU-PF’s party, and unprecedented mass public protests calling for him to stand down.

The news of his resignation on Tuesday sparked scenes of jubilation in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, as thousands of cheering people poured into the streets within minutes of the announcement. 

The past week’s dramatic events in Zimbabwe were watched closely by leaders in neighbouring countries and around the world.

Here is how some governments and officials reacted to the news of the end of Mugabe’s era.


Alpha Conde, president of Guinea and African Union (AU) chief, said it is “a shame” Mugabe “has to leave through the back door”. 

He added, however, that he was “very pleased” with Mugabe’s decision to resign, noting that the AU had warned against a coup in Zimbabwe.

Hailing Mugabe’s role in Zimbabwe’s fight for independence, Conde called Mugabe “an African hero”.

“Mugabe will never be forgotten, he was a great fighter,” he was quoted as saying by Guinean media. 

There was no immediate comment from the government in neighbouring South Africa, the region’s economic hub.

But Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Johannesburg, said a planned trip by President Jacob Zuma to Harare on Wednesday was expected to go on as normal.

“We understand he will still take that trip with Angolan President Joao Lourenco – although events on the ground may have eclipsed the necessity for that“, said Page, shortly after Mugabe submitted a letter of resignation to Zimbabwe’s parliament as it launched proceedings to impeach him. 

The Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s main opposition party, called the resignation “a victory for the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered greatly under the latter years of Mugabe’s reign”.

Hakainde Hichilema, opposition leader in Zambia, congratulated the people of Zimbabwe, saying the events there sent a message to African leaders.

“This is power by the people for the people and to the people,” he said.


Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, encouraged Zimbabweans to “maintain calm and restraint” after Mugabe’s resignation.

Farhan Haq, Guterres’ spokesman, said “the secretary-general and his predecessors have made clear that we expect all leaders to listen to their people.

“That is a cornerstone of every form of government and needs to be followed in every continent and in every nation.”

In Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial power, Prime Minister Theresa May said the news of Mugabe’s resignation was an opportunity to “forge a new path free of the oppression that characterised his rule”.

“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”, she added in a statement.

UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter that he does not regret Mugabe’s downfall, calling the resignation “a moment of hope for the people of Zimbabwe”.

The United States State Department released a statement congratulating the people of Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe has an historic opportunity to set itself on a new path. Through that process, the United States urges unwavering respect for the rule of law and for established democratic practices”, a statement by the US Embassy in Zimbabwe said.


The statement concluded by saying “the path forward must lead to free, fair, and inclusive elections, in which the people of Zimbabwe, free to assemble peacefully without undue interference and to voice their opinions without fear, choose their own leaders.”

Earlier on Tuesday, ahead of Mugabe’s resignation, Botswana President Ian Khama had publicly urged him to resign.

In an open letter published on social media, Khama said: “the people of Zimbabwe have for a long time been subjected to untold suffering as a result of poor governance under your leadership”.

“It is therefore my conviction that by vacating the Presidency, this will usher in a new political dispensation that will pave the way for the much needed socio-economic recovery in Zimbabwe.”

Source: Al Jazeera