By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe's president on Tuesday a week after the army and his former political allies moved to end four decades of rule by a man once feted as an independence hero who became feared as a despot.
His former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will be sworn in as president on Wednesday or Thursday, Patrick Chinamasa, legal secretary of the ruling ZANU-PF told Reuters.
The 93-year-old Mugabe had clung on for a week after an army takeover. He finally resigned shortly after parliament began an impeachment process seen as the only legal way to force him out.
Wild celebrations broke out at a joint sitting of parliament when Speaker Jacob Mudenda read out Mugabe's brief resignation letter and suspended the impeachment procedure. Mugabe, who has been confined to his Harare residence, did not appear in person.
People danced and car horns blared at news that the era of Mugabe -- who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 -- was finally over.
Some held posters of Mnangagwa, whose sacking this month triggered the military takeover that forced Mugabe out, and of army chief General Constantino Chiwenga.
Despite the outpouring of joy on the streets, his downfall was as much the result of in-fighting among the political elite as a popular uprising, although thousands of people rallied against him in the days after the army intervened last week.
ZANU-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told Reuters that Mnangagwa would be sworn in within 48 hours and that he would serve the remainder of Mugabe's term until the next general election, which must be held by September 2018.
(Additional reporting by Harare and Johannesburg bureaus; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Angus MacSwan and John Stonestreet)