Former Afghan president gives his reason for leaving country in statement

"I owe the Afghan people an explanation for leaving Kabul airport abruptly on August 15 after Taliban unexpectedly entered the city."
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul back in March 1, 2020. (AFP)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul back in March 1, 2020. (AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani released a statement on Wednesday in which he tried to both justify fleeing the Taliban’s takeover of his country last month and firmly reject claims that he had taken millions of dollars along with him.

"I owe the Afghan people an explanation for leaving Kabul airport abruptly on August 15 after Taliban unexpectedly entered the city," the statement began. "I left at the urging of the palace security who advised me that to remain risked setting off the same horrific street-to-street fighting the city had suffered during the Civil War of the 1990s."

Ghani fled Kabul on August 15, the same day the Afghan capital infamously fell to Taliban control for the first time since 2001. When the Taliban first captured the Afghan capital Kabul back in 1996, the group tortured and murdered former Afghan president Mohammad Najibullah and hung his corpse from a streetlight.

Ghani's statement said that his decision to leave Kabul was "the most difficult of my life, but I believed it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her 6 million people."

The former president, who now resides in the United Arab Emirates, argued that it "is not the moment for a long assessment of the events leading up to my departure – I will address them in detail in the near future". 

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However, Ghani denied claims that he had left Kabul with millions of dollars in cash, describing such allegations as "completely and categorically false".

"Corruption is a plague that has crippled our country for decades and fighting corruption has been a central focus of my efforts as president," his statement said, adding that he had "inherited a monster that could not easily or quickly be defeated".

Ghani went on to claim that he would welcome any financial investigation or official audit "under UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body to prove the veracity of my statements here".

He concluded his statement, released over three weeks after he fled the country, by offering his "profound appreciation and respect for the sacrifices of all Afghans, especially our Afghan soldiers and their families, through the last forty years."

Before Kabul fell on August 15, thousands of Afghan soldiers on multiple fronts across the country chose not to go on fighting, many of them complaining about a lack of support and supplies from the government in Kabul. This low morale resulted in many beleaguered Afghan soldiers even handing over their weapons and vehicles to the advancing Taliban before going home.

Ghani also lamented that his own "chapter ended in similar tragedy to my predecessors – without ensuring stability and prosperity."

"I apologize to the Afghan people that I could not make it end differently," his statement concluded. "My commitment to the Afghan people has never wavered and will guide me for the rest of my life."