Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday apologized for fleeing the country as Kabul fell to the Taliban but denied that he stole millions of dollars, Axios reports.
News quickly spread that Ghani fled the country after the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s capital last month. Reports said that Ghani, who is now seeking asylum in the United Arab Emirates, stole nearly $170 million in cash from the country.
Ghani in a statement called the allegations that he left Kabul with millions of ill-gotten gains “baseless.”
“These charges are completely and categorically false,” he said. “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 that he has disclosed all of his assets and welcomes an “official audit or financial investigation under UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body to prove the veracity of my statements here. My close aides are ready to submit their finances to public audit.”
“I owe the Afghan people an explanation for leaving Kabul abruptly,” he said. “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. 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. 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.”
“It is with deep and profound regret that my own chapter ended in similar tragedy to my predecessors -- without ensuring stability and prosperity,” he added. “I apologize to the Afghan people that I could not make it end differently.”
Ghani’s departure precipitated collapse:
Ghani’s departure from Kabul precipitated the fall of Kabul on August 15.
President Joe Biden blames Ghani for the collapse and said he refused his advice to negotiate with the Taliban and instead insisted that Afghan forces try to fight off the insurgents across the country rather than just in Kabul.
"Here is what I believe to my core. It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not," Biden said. "How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan’s civil war when Afghan troops will not?"