Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani apologized on Wednesday for fleeing the country last month amid a Taliban takeover and not “ensuring stability and prosperity.”
“I offer my profound appreciation and respect for the sacrifice of all Afghans, especially our Afghan soldiers and their families, through the last forty years. It is with deep and profound regret that my own chapter ended in similar tragedy to my predecessors — without ensuring stability and prosperity,” Ghani said in a statement.
“I apologize to the Afghan people that I could not make it end differently,” he added.
Statement 8 September 2021 pic.twitter.com/5yKXWIdLfM— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) September 8, 2021
Ghani explained that he had left the country at the urging of palace security and called the decision to leave Kabul “the most difficult decision of my life.”
Ghani left Afghanistan on Aug. 15, the same day that Taliban members overtook the presidential palace and, ultimately, the capital city of Kabul. He later resurfaced in the United Arab Emirates and claimed he had left the country to prevent further bloodshed.
Some Afghans called Ghani’s abrupt departure from the country a “betrayal” following weeks of the Taliban capturing provincial capitals across the country as the U.S. military prepared to fully withdraw after 20 years of war.
Several days after Ghani left the country, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Tajikistan called for the arrest of the former president, saying that he had stolen millions of dollars.
In his statement on Wednesday, Ghani refuted the claim that he had taken any money from Afghanistan, 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,” Ghani said in his statement. “I inherited a monster that could not easily or quickly be defeated.”
Ghani also said he welcomed an independent investigation into his finances.
“My close aides are ready to submit their finances to public audit, and I would encourage and urge former senior officials and political figures to do the same,” he said.