Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe who was in power from 1980 until his resignation after a military coup in 2017, has died, the country’s current president announced Friday morning.
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who was elected after Mugabe stepped down, tweeted.
Mugabe’s family also confirmed his death , and said the former president had been battling ill health.
Mugabe, 95, was the world’s oldest ruler when resigned as Zimbabwe’s president in November of 2017, following a military coup.
Before he resigned, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party had already removed Mugabe as leader and named Mnangagwa in his place.
Mnangagwa said Friday that Mugabe was “an icon of liberation” and “a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people.”
“His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Mnangagwa tweeted.
Before he resigned, it was said that Mugabe’s firing of Mnangagwa as his vice president, which would have paved the way for Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to succeed him, triggered the army to seize control.
The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe said the at the time that the resignation of Mugabe “marks an historic moment” for the country and congratulated all Zimbabweans who raised their voices.