Former president apologizes for fleeing when Taliban encircled Kabul, claiming he left at urging of security personnel
Former Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday rejected “baseless allegations” that he had taken millions of dollars belonging to the Afghan people with him when he fled Kabul on Aug. 15 after Taliban forces encircled the city.
“These charges are completely and categorically false,” he wrote in a statement posted on his official Twitter account. “Corruption is a plague that has crippled our country for decades and fighting corruption has been a central focus of my efforts as president. I inherited a monster that could not easily or quickly be defeated,” he added.
Emphasizing that he and his wife had been “scrupulous” about their personal finance, he said he would welcome any official audit or financial investigation “under U.N. auspices or any other appropriate independent body” to prove his assertion. “My close aides are ready to submit their finances to public audit, and I would encourage and urge other former senior officials and political figures to do the same,” he added.
The former president also said that he owed the Afghan people an explanation for how he fled the country on Aug. 15. “I left at the urging of 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,” he wrote. “Leaving Kabul was the most difficult decision of my life, but I believed it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her 6 million citizens,” he added.
“I have devoted 20 years of my life to helping the Afghan people work toward building a democratic, prosperous, and sovereign state—it was never my intent to abandon the people or that vision,” he said.
In his statement, the former president also expressed his “profound appreciation and respect” for the sacrifices the people of Afghanistan had rendered over the past 40 years. “It is with deep and profound regret that my 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.”