Former President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday rejected claims that he fled Afghanistan with millions of dollars.
Ghani, who has taken refuge in the United Arab Emirates, issued a statement expressing his regret over leaving “without ensuring stability and prosperity” in Afghanistan.
“It is with deep and profound regret that my own chapter ended in similar tragedy to my predecessors – without ensuring stability and prosperity,” he said, adding that it was “never my intent to abandon the people.”
“I apologize to the Afghan people that I could not make it end differently,” said Ghani, stressing that he was advised to leave Kabul “after the Taliban unexpectedly entered the city” on Aug. 15.
“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.
Ghani said it was “the most difficult decision of my life” but one that he thought “was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her 6 million citizens.”
The former president promised to shed more light on the events leading to his departure in the future.
He rebuffed the “baseless allegations” that he escaped from Kabul “with millions of dollars belonging to the Afghan people.”
“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 asserted.
The former president said he and his wife, who is of Lebanese origin, “have been scrupulous in our personal finances.”
“I have publicly declared all of my assets. My wife’s family inheritance has also been disclosed and remains listed in her home country of Lebanon,” he said, adding that he would “welcome an official audit or financial investigation under UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body.”
Stressing the need for dialogue to determine Afghanistan’s future, Ghani said the “Afghan tradition of Jirga and Shura is deeply egalitarian and participatory and can provide a platform for peaceful outcomes for the country moving forward.”