Former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has finally broken his silence after leaving his country to escape the Taliban militants.
Ghani ran for his life as Taliban forces enter Kabul on Sunday, August 15.
Speaking from exile, Ghani said he had left Kabul to prevent bloodshed and denied reports he took large sums of money with him as he departed the presidential palace.
“What had happened 25 years ago in Afghanistan was going to take place again. That was something that needed to be avoided, a shameful development like that,” Ghani said in a video streamed on Facebook on Wednesday, his first public comments since it was confirmed he was in the UAE.
“The dignity of Afghanistan was important for me, and that was to be ensured, so I had to leave Afghanistan in order to prevent bloodshed, in order to make sure that a huge disaster (was) prevented.
“When it comes to the political leadership of the Taliban, it was a failure on their part and a failure on our part that the negotiations did not lead to anything, the peace process should lead to the end of war.
“I left on the advice of government officials,” he added.
“Kabul should not be turned into another Yemen or Syria overpower struggles so I was forced to leave,” Ghani said.
Earlier reports had suggested that Ghani fled with $169 million in his cash-stuffed helicopter and has been given asylum in Dubai on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
But he said there was no truth to allegations that he escaped with ‘suitcases of cash’, saying it was all part of a ‘personality assassination’.
“I left with just a waistcoat and some clothes. The personality assassination against me has been ongoing, saying that I have taken money with me,” Ghani said in the video.
“The accusations are baseless lies. You can even ask customs officials – they are baseless.”
Ghani also said in his livestream address that he supports talks between the Taliban and top former government officials, and that he was “in talks to return” home after seeking refuge in the UAE.
“I support the government’s initiative of ongoing negotiations with Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai. I want the success of this process,” he said.
“I am in consultation for my return to Afghanistan so that I can continue efforts for justice, true Islamic and national values,” he said.
The UAE is one of three nations, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which recognised the previous Taliban regime, which ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
On Monday, there were scenes of panic and chaos at the Kabul airport as desperate residents tried to flee the war-torn country. Deaths were reported as some clung to planes flying out of the capital.
Earlier this year, the war between the Taliban and Afghan forces intensified as foreign troops announced their withdrawal from the country by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks that led to the US invasion.
With the collapse of the Afghan government, attention is turning to ensure the safety of civilians and evacuees and an orderly transfer of power.
The Taliban has declared that the war in Afghanistan is over and said efforts to form an inclusive government are under way.