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‘Leaving Kabul most difficult decision of my life’: Ex-prez Ashraf Ghani apologises to Afghans

Ghani also refuted allegations of corruption and swindling of money against him

Afghanistan (File) Ashraf Ghani | AP

Former Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani today apologised to his countrymen for fleeing the nation, with the Taliban knocking on the doors of Kabul. The capital city fell soon after and, on August 15, the Taliban seized control of the country.

Ghani, in a tweet today, said, "I owe the Afghan people an explanation for leaving Kabul abruptly on August 15 after Taliban unexpectedly enter the city. 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.”

He said that leaving Kabul was the most difficult decision of his life, “…but I believed it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her 6 million citizens”.

“I have devoted 20 years of my life to helping the Afghan people work towards building a democratic, prosperous, and sovereign state — it was never my intent to abandon the people or that vision,” Ghani said in the statement.

On August 18, the United Arab Emirates released an official statement to announce that it was hosting Ghani and his family on “humanitarian grounds”.

He also refuted allegations of corruption and swindling of money levelled against him. “These charges are 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. I inherited a monster that could not easily or quickly be defeated,” Ghani said in the statement.

He added that he is open to an official audit or financial investigation under “UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body".

“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," Ghani said.

The 72-year-old economist took over as the president of Afghanistan in September 2014, succeeding Hamid Karzai, who led Afghanistan after the US-led invasion in 2001.

"I offer my profound appreciation and respect for the sacrifice of all Afghans, especially our Afghan soldiers and their families, through the last 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," Ghani said in the statement.

The crisis in Afghanistan led to an unprecedented exodus of people fleeing their homes, fearing the hardline policies of the Taliban.

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