- Title: Profile of exiled Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
- Date: 15th August 2021
- Summary: GHANI AND KHAN POSING FOR PHOTOS / ENTERING PALACE GHANI AND KHAN SEATED INSIDE PALACE
- Embargoed: 29th August 2021 13:16
- Keywords: Abdullah Abdullah Afghan president Ashraf Ghani U.S. withdraw exile peace talks the Taliban
- Location: SEE SCRIPT BODY FOR LOCATIONS
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- Country: Afghanistan
- Topics: Asia / Pacific,Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA00FEQF26H3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, speaking from exile in the United Arab Emirates, said on Wednesday (August 18) that he had left Kabul to prevent bloodshed and denied reports he took large sums of money with him as he departed the presidential palace.
Twice elected president, both times after bitterly disputed contests, the former World Bank academic has been criticised by former ministers for leaving the country suddenly as Taliban forces entered Kabul on Sunday (August 15).
"If I had stayed, I would be witnessing bloodshed in Kabul," Ghani said in a video streamed on Facebook, his first public comments since it was confirmed he was in the UAE.
He left on the advice of government officials, he added.
First elected president in 2014, Ghani took over from Hamid Karzai, who led Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, and oversaw the conclusion of the U.S. combat mission, the near-complete withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, as well as a fractious peace process with the insurgent Taliban.
An increasingly isolated figure, he made the effort to end decades of war a priority, despite continuing attacks on his government and security forces by the Taliban, and began peace talks with the insurgents in the Qatari capital, Doha, in 2020.
But foreign governments were frustrated by the slow progress of the talks and his increasingly prickly reaction, and calls grew for an interim government to replace his administration.
During his presidency, he managed to appoint a new generation of young, educated Afghans to leadership positions at a time the country's power corridors were occupied by a handful of elite figures and patronage networks.
He promised to fight rampant corruption, fix a crippled economy and transform the country into a regional trade hub between Central and South Asia - but was unable to deliver on most of those promises.
A U.S.-trained anthropologist, Ghani, 72, holds a doctorate from New York City's Columbia University and was named one of the "World's Top 100 Global Thinkers" by Foreign Policy magazine in 2010.
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