Afghanistan: Ousted president Ashraf Ghani in UAE ‘on humanitarian grounds’

Ousted Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, who fled as the Taliban entered Kabul, is in the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf state has said.

In a statement, the UAE foreign ministry said Mr Ghani and his family had been welcomed on “humanitarian grounds”.

It is the first time Mr Ghani’s whereabouts have been confirmed.

Following his departure from Afghanistan as the Taliban swooped into the capital virtually unopposed on Sunday, the Russian embassy in Kabul reportedly said he left with four cars and a helicopter full of money and had to leave some cash behind as it would not all fit in.

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“As for the collapse of the (outgoing) regime, it is most eloquently characterised by the way Ghani fled Afghanistan,” embassy spokesman Nikita Ishchenko was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

“Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” he reportedly said.

Mr Ghani fled the Taliban advance at the weekend and disappeared amid widespread anger from Afghans over the collapse of the country’s security forces.

On Monday, Joe Biden was scathing of Afghanistan’s political leadership as he himself faced criticism for withdrawing his troops from the country.

The US president conceded the rise of Taliban forces and the deterioration of the Afghan military happened much faster than he had expected but insisted there was never a good time to pull out American forces.

In his address from the White House, he said: “Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight.”

After his departure, Mr Ghani said he wanted to avoid bloodshed.

“The Taliban had made it clear that they were ready to carry out a bloody attack on all of Kabul and the people of Kabul to oust me. In order to prevent a flood of bloodshed, I decided to leave,” he said in a statement on Facebook.

He added the militants had “won victory in a judgement of sword and gun” and they “have a responsibility to protect the honour, prosperity and self-respect of our compatriots”.

The Taliban has promised to maintain security and would not seek revenge against former troops and government officials, adding it was granting an amnesty for ex-soldiers as well as contractors and translators who worked for international forces.

But residents in the capital Kabul say groups of armed men have been going door to door asking about Afghans who worked with the Americans or the deposed government.

It is unclear if the gunmen are Taliban or criminals posing as militants.

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Thousands of Afghans, many of whom helped US-led foreign forces over two decades, are desperate to leave the country.

About 5,000 diplomats, security staff, aid workers and Afghans have been evacuated from Kabul airport in the last 24 hours, a Western official has said.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has pressed ahead with its efforts to form an “inclusive, Islamic government”.

The group has been holding talks with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the ousted government.

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