Zimbabwe parliament speaker claims Mugabe has resigned

PHOTO: A handout photo made available by the Zimbabwean government through The Herald daily newspaper, Nov. 20, 2017, shows Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addressing the nation at the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe.PlayThe Herald/EPA, FILE
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Robert Mugabe has resigned as the leader of Zimbabwe after more than 30 years in power, according to a statement read by the speaker of the country's parliament.

The speaker read a letter reportedly from Mugabe, in which he said he was resigning immediately and voluntarily in an effort to ensure a "smooth transfer of power," according to the Associated Press. The announcement was met with widespread cheers from lawmakers.

PHOTO: Zimbabwe Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda presides over a parliament session where a motion is moved to impeach President Robert Mugabe on Nov. 21, 2017 at the Zimbabwean Parliament in Harare, Zimbabwe.Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images
Zimbabwe Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda presides over a parliament session where a motion is moved to impeach President Robert Mugabe on Nov. 21, 2017 at the Zimbabwean Parliament in Harare, Zimbabwe.

His reported resignation comes amid heightened political tensions in the country.

Mugabe, 93, was placed under house arrest by the military several days ago.

PHOTO: Protesters calling for the impeachment of President Robert Mugabe brandish a national flag as they demonstrate outside the parliament building in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 21, 2017. Ben Curtis/AP
Protesters calling for the impeachment of President Robert Mugabe brandish a national flag as they demonstrate outside the parliament building in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 21, 2017.

Zimbabwe's military is believed to have taken charge of the country earlier this month.

The first signs of a military takeover emerged Nov. 14 as armored vehicles were deployed near the capital, one week after Mugabe fired his longtime ally Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and accused him of scheming to take power, including through witchcraft.

PHOTO: People gather at an opposition party rally outside the state parliament in before the proposed impeachment of president Robert Mugabe, Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 21, 2017.Kim Ludbrook/EPA
People gather at an opposition party rally outside the state parliament in before the proposed impeachment of president Robert Mugabe, Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 21, 2017.

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe issued an advisory that night, urging all employees to stay home the next day and warning American citizens there to shelter in place "as a result of the ongoing political uncertainty."

Zimbabwe's army addressed the country on state-run media on Nov. 15, vehemently denying speculation that it was a coup d'etat and assuring citizens that Mugabe and his family were "safe and sound."

PHOTO: Zimbabweans celebrate in Harare, Tuesday, Nov, 21, 2017, after the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
Zimbabweans celebrate in Harare, Tuesday, Nov, 21, 2017, after the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

On Nov. 17, Mugabe made his first public appearance since the alleged house arrest. He delivered a speech at a university graduation ceremony in the country's capital, Harare.

His resignation marks a major turning point in Zimbabwe's history. He became the country's first prime minister in 1980 after the end of British colonial rule over the country, formerly known as Rhodesia, in southern Africa. He became president in 1987 and had ruled the country since then.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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