Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani apologized on Wednesday for his government’s sudden collapse as Taliban troops approached the city’s outskirts last month, but denied taking millions of cash with him.
Ghani claimed he departed on the advice of his security staff, who warned that if he remained, the city will face “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,” he said.
The statement largely echoed a message Ghani sent from the United Arab Emirates in the immediate aftermath of his departure, which drew bitter criticism from former allies who accused him of betrayal.
Ghani, a former World Bank executive who became president after two fiercely contested elections plagued by numerous accusations of fraud on both sides, said rumors that he had left with millions of dollars in cash
“Corruption is a plague that has crippled our country for decades and fighting corruption has been a central focus of my efforts as president,” he said, adding that he and his Lebanese-born wife were “scrupulous in our personal finances.”
He expressed gratitude for the sacrifices made by Afghans throughout the country’s 40-year conflict.
“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.”