‘Completely false': Afghan ex-prez Ashraf Ghani junks corruption allegations
Ashraf Ghani said leaving Kabul was what he believed the only way to ‘keep the guns silent’ and ‘save Kabul and her 6 million citizens’.
Former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement on Wednesday to refute the allegations of corruption and swindling of money levelled against him.
Taking to Twitter from his official handle @ashrafghani, the former President of the war-torn nation — now ruled by Islamist militant group Taliban — posted a long statement, calling the allegations “baseless."
“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,” Ashraf Ghani said in the statement.
Ghani left the presidential palace in Afghanistan's capital sometime around August 15, when the Taliban fighters were at the gates of Kabul, waiting to lay siege on the city.
His whereabouts were unknown till August 18, when the United Arab Emirates released an official statement to announce that it was hosting Ghani and his family on “humanitarian grounds.”
Media reports claimed Ghani had left Kabul "with four cars and a helicopter full of cash" and was spotted "everywhere from Tajikistan to Oman to Abu Dhabi."
Reacting to the allegations, Ghani said he is open to an official audit or financial investigation under “UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body" to prove the veracity of his statements.
“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.
Immediately after Ghani left the country, the Afghan embassy in Tajikistan requested the Interpol to detain the former president Ashraf Ghani for allegedly stealing public wealth.
After leaving, Ghani posted on Facebook that he exited the country to avoid bloodshed. However, his escape irked the people of Afghanistan, including his cabinet colleagues, many of whom called it "treason".
He said at that time that he was “expelled from Afghanistan” in such a way that he didn't even get the chance to take his “slippers off” his feet and pull on his boots.
Ghani said in the latest statement 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,” Ghani wrote.
“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,” he further said.
A Fulbright Scholar with a doctorate from Columbia University, the 72-year-old economist assumed the presidency of Afghanistan in September 2014, after taking over from Hamid Karzai, who led Afghanistan after the US-led invasion in 2001.