Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe has been given immunity to stay in the country as he bowed to increasing pressures and quit office after nearly four decades in power.
Sources close to the recent negotiations with Mugabe that led to his resignation said Thursday that he had been given immunity from potential prosecution and assured that his safety would be protected.
The 93-year-old former president had reportedly asked for assurances to stay in Zimbabwe and die there.
“For him it was very important that he be guaranteed security to stay in the country … although that will not stop him from traveling abroad when he wants to or has to,” said a government source about discussions between negotiators and Mugabe in recent days.
“It was very emotional for him and he was forceful about it,” said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another source said Mugabe had received assurances that his wife, Grace, and other members of his family, would be protected following his resignation.
“The outgoing president is obviously aware of the public hostility to his wife, the anger in some circles about the manner in which she conducted herself,” said the source, adding, “In that regard, it became necessary to also assure him that his whole family, including the wife, would be safe and secure.”
The political standoff that began earlier this month in Zimbabwe and finally led to Mugabe’s ouster after 37 years in power was triggered by a battle to succeed him that involved his wife.
The army put Mugabe under house arrest after he sacked his long-time deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa as fears grew that the president was engineering a path for his wife to succeed him. Mugabe refused to resign for almost a week, even after the ruling Zanu-PF party sacked him.
However, on Tuesday Mugabe sent a letter to the country’s parliament, which had began an impeachment motion against him, and announced his resignation.
Mnangagwa, who had fled Zimbabwe out of fear for his life, returned to the country the same day to be nominated as new Zanu-PF leader. Parliament had announced that Mnangagwa would be sworn in as Zimbabwe’s new president on Friday.