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Zimbabwe set to swear in new president after Robert Mugabe resigns

Click to play video: 'Mugabe resigns, halting impeachment in Zimbabwe' Mugabe resigns, halting impeachment in Zimbabwe
After a 37-year rule, Zimbabwe's president is finally calling it quits. Robert Mugabe's surprise resignation sparked jubilation in the streets. – Nov 21, 2017

Zimbabwe’s recently fired vice president was set to return on Wednesday to be sworn in as the country’s new leader after Robert Mugabe announced his stunning resignation during impeachment proceedings against him.

The state-run broadcaster reported that Emmerson Mnangagwa would arrive at Manyame Air Base in the capital, Harare, at 6 p.m. local time, and the Parliament speaker said he would be sworn in Friday after the ruling party notified him of its nomination of Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe until the end of the term next year.

READ MORE: Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s president

Singing and cheering, several hundred people have gathered outside the air force base in anticipation of Mnangagwa’s arrival.

Some carried printed signs with images of Mnangagwa, suggesting a significant level of organization behind the jubilant turnout. Signs read “Welcome back, our hero” and “True to your word, you’re back. Welcome.”

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WATCH: Celebrations erupt in Zimbabwe following Robert Mugabe’s resignation

Click to play video: 'Celebrations erupt in Zimbabwe following Robert  Mugabe’s resignation' Celebrations erupt in Zimbabwe following Robert Mugabe’s resignation
Celebrations erupt in Zimbabwe following Robert Mugabe’s resignation – Nov 21, 2017

A man in the crowd, Godwin Nyarugwa, said he was “very ecstatic” and that “we need change in this country, change in everything.”

Zimbabwe has been through “crisis after crisis” and Mnangagwa seems best suited to lead the country forward, said Nyarugwa, who has several university degrees but no job.

“We have to try him and see,” he said. “If he doesn’t come up with something, we need to change him as well.”

The air force base where demonstrators are congregating is adjacent to Harare’s international airport.

READ MORE: Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe makes 1st public appearance amid talks on departure

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Zimbabweans are still reeling from Mugabe’s resignation Tuesday. They cheered and danced in the streets of Harare late into the night, thrilled to be rid of a leader whose early promise after the end of white minority rule in 1980 was overtaken by economic collapse, government dysfunction and human rights violations.

Now the focus turns to Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s longtime deputy who was pushed aside earlier this month as unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe positioned herself to replace him and succeed her husband. Mnangagwa fled the country, claiming threats against his life.

That led the military to step in a week ago, opening the door for the ruling party and the people to publicly turn against the president.

WATCH: People march against Mugabe days after military seizes control in Zimbabwe

Click to play video: 'People march against Mugabe days after military seizes control in Zimbabwe' People march against Mugabe days after military seizes control in Zimbabwe
People march against Mugabe days after military seizes control in Zimbabwe – Nov 18, 2017

It was not clear what the 93-year-old Robert Mugabe and his wife would do next. Mugabe, who was the world’s oldest head of state, said in his resignation letter that legal procedures should be followed to install a new president “no later than tomorrow.”

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The privately run Newsday newspaper reported that Mnangagwa would be met on arrival in Harare by army commander Constantino Chiwenga and ruling party officials and then was expected “to meet Mugabe for a briefing.”

Zimbabweans woke up to the first day in 37 years without Mugabe in power. With some nursing hangovers, they looked over newspaper headlines such as “Adios Bob and Ta-ta President.”

READ MORE: Who is ‘Gucci Grace’ Mugabe? The first lady at the centre of Zimbabwe’s unrest

“I think this change of government is like a new breath of fresh air right across the country,” said Patrick Musira on the streets of the capital. “Everyone was engulfed with excitement and they are looking for a better future, a brighter future with work.”

Zimbabwe’s new leaders are faced with a once-prosperous nation whose economy has collapsed, sending well-educated but frustrated young people into desperate work as street vendors. Many have left the country altogether.

Mnangagwa is a former justice and defense minister who served for decades as Mugabe’s enforcer, a role that earned him the nickname “Crocodile.” Many opposition supporters believe he was instrumental in the army killings of thousands of people when Mugabe moved against a political rival in the 1980s.

WATCH: Robert Mugabe’s resignation greeted with cheers and dancing in Zimbabwe parliament

Click to play video: 'Robert Mugabe’s resignation greeted with cheers and dancing in Zimbabwe parliament' Robert Mugabe’s resignation greeted with cheers and dancing in Zimbabwe parliament
Robert Mugabe’s resignation greeted with cheers and dancing in Zimbabwe parliament – Nov 21, 2017

So far in the current political turmoil Mnangagwa has used inclusive language, saying in a statement hours before Mugabe’s resignation that all Zimbabweans should work together to advance their nation.

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“Never should the nation be held at ransom by one person ever again, whose desire is to die in office at whatever cost to the nation,” Mnangagwa said.

In a new commentary, the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper stressed the importance of presidential term limits, saying Zimbabweans will “never again go back into a box of silence.”

It added: “We hope that when (Mnangagwa) finishes his stint in State House the cheers will be for a job well done … He has the best wishes of most Zimbabweans, at least today.”

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