'Didn't steal money, went in sandals to UAE', says Ashraf Ghani; vows to return to Afghanistan

Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan on Sunday just as the Taliban approached Kabul.Ashraf Ghani claimed that he was forced to leave Afghanistan with one set of traditional clothes, a vest, and sandals.

'Didn't steal money, went in sandals to UAE', says Ashraf Ghani; vows to return to Afghanistan
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani makes an address about the latest developments in the country from exile in United Arab Emirates. (via REUTERS)
  • Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan on Sunday just as the Taliban approached Kabul
  • Ashraf Ghani claimed that he was forced to leave Afghanistan with one set of traditional clothes, a vest, and sandals

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has posted a video on Facebook in which he defended his decision to flee Kabul in the face of the Taliban advance, and said that he is in UAE to prevent bloodshed.

Ghani said he is in consultations to return to Afghanistan and assured his countrymen that he would continue to fight to ensure justice, Afghan sovereignty and restore real Islamic values and national achievements.

He further said that he had no intentions of remaining in exile in Dubai. And added that had he stayed back in Afghanistan he would have been hanged.

"Had I stayed there, an elected president of Afghanistan would have been hanged again right before the Afghans' own eyes," Ghani told in the Facebook video.

He also indirectly tried to quash an accusation by Afghanistan's ambassador to Tajikistan that he had stolen $169 million from state funds.

He claimed that he was forced to leave Afghanistan with one set of traditional clothes, a vest, and sandals.

"Do not believe whoever tells you that your president sold you out and fled for his own advantage and to save his own life," Ghani said adding, "These accusations are baseless... and I strongly reject them."

“I was moved out of Afghanistan in such a way that I didn’t even have the chance to take off my sandals and wear my shoes instead," he said.

Ghani left Afghanistan on Sunday just as the Taliban approached Kabul. Between Sunday and Wednesday, Ghani's location was unknown, and reports emerged that he might have fled to Oman, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, or Lebanon.

Ghani spent much of his life studying how to boost growth in poor nations. A scholar with a doctorate from Columbia University, he taught at some of America’s elite academic institutions before stints at the World Bank and United Nations. Later he co-wrote “Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World."

After the US invasion in 2001, Ghani returned to Afghanistan for the first time in more than a quarter-century and served for two years as finance minister in an administration led by Hamid Karzai. Afterward, Ghani became a darling of the international aid world, giving Ted Talks, penning op-eds in major newspapers and speaking at conferences. At one point he was considered a candidate for UN secretary-general.

Ghani became Afghanistan's President in 2014.

(With agencies input)