Zimbabwe Ruling Party Says Mugabe Goes or Impeachment Starts

Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, attends the 12th African Union summit in Ethiopia in 2012
Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, attends the 12th African Union Summit Feb. 2, 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The assembly agreed to a schedule for the formation of Zimbabwe's new unity government, calling for the immediate lifting of sanctions on the country. Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s ruling party Central Committee fired longtime President Robert Mugabe as party leader Sunday, saying that if he doesn’t resign as the country’s president by noon Monday they will begin impeachment proceedings when Parliament resumes the following day.

Clinging to his now virtually powerless post, Mr. Mugabe was set to discuss his expected exit with the army commander who put him under house arrest days ago, in a second round of negotiations. But the world’s oldest head of state was increasingly isolated in his lavish mansion, with allies departing, arrested or, like his wife, now expelled from the ruling party.

A day after huge crowds rallied peacefully in the capital, Harare, for the 93-year-old Mr. Mugabe to go, members of the ruling party’s Central Committee stood, cheered and sang as Mr. Mugabe was recalled. Meeting chair Obert Mpofu referred to him as “outgoing president” and called it a “sad day” for Mugabe after 37 years in power.

“He has been our leader for a long time and we have all learned a great deal from him,” Mr. Mpofu said. But Mr. Mugabe “surrounded himself with a wicked cabal” that brought him down.

The meeting replaced Mr. Mugabe as party chief with the vice president whose firing nearly two weeks ago led the military to step in, and recalled the unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe as head of the women’s league.

That former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is expected to lead a new government after the ruling party named him as its nominee to take over as the country’s president when Mr. Mugabe goes. Without the military’s intervention, the first lady likely would have replaced Mnangagwa as vice president and been in a position to succeed her husband.