South Africa’s embattled President Jacob Zuma has resigned from his office with immediate effect.
He made the announcement in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday evening.
Earlier, Mr Zuma’s governing ANC party told him to step down or face a vote of no confidence in parliament.
The 75-year-old has been under increasing pressure to give way to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s new leader.
Mr Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, faces numerous allegations of corruption.
His resignation came at the end of a long speech in which he said he disagreed with the way the ANC had acted towards him.
He said he did not fear a motion of no-confidence, adding: “I have served the people of South Africa to the best of my ability.”
‘Disciplined ANC member’
Mr Zuma also said that violence and division within the ANC had influenced his decision to step down.
“No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect,” he said.
“Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC.
“As I leave I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC, the organisation I have served… all of my life.”
The ANC issued a statement saying Mr Zuma’s resignation provided “certainty to the people of South Africa”.
Deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte told reporters: “President Zuma remains a principled member of the ANC. The ANC wants to salute the outstanding contribution he has made.”
Mr Zuma, a former member of the ANC’s military wing in the days of apartheid, rose through the ranks of the party to become president. He led the country for more than a third of its time after apartheid.
But he leaves office with several scandals hanging over him, and with South Africa’s economy in dire straits.
What led up Zuma’s resignation?
A meeting of the ANC’s National Executive Committee had announced its decision to recall Mr Zuma on Tuesday and gave him until the end of Wednesday to resign.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu then announced a motion of no-confidence would be heard on Thursday, with Mr Ramaphosa sworn in as president as soon as possible after that.
Mr Zuma’s resignation capped a day of fast-moving events.
It began with early morning police raids and arrests at the Johannesburg home of his close associates, the wealthy, Indian-born Gupta family.
The Guptas have been accused of using their close friendship with the president to wield enormous political influence. Both parties deny all allegations of wrongdoing.
Mr Zuma made no reference to the raid when he held a lengthy, unannounced, interview with national broadcaster SABC hours later.
But he said he had done nothing wrong and saw no reason to stand down.