DUBAI — In a video streamed on his official Facebook page Wednesday night, former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani for the first time denied that he had carried huge sums of money with him as he left Kabul. He said he was forced by his security detail to leave in such a hurry that he left his prized books and some confidential documents. All he took, he said, was a waistcoat and a shalwar kameez, referring to a piece of traditional Afghan clothing.
Russian officials in Kabul have charged that Ghani fled with four cars and a helicopter filled with cash, the Russian news agency RIA reported Monday.
“These days, the political assassination, the character assassination, has been going on, saying that I have taken money with me,” Ghani said. “They’re completely baseless lies. And you can actually find out from the customs officials, from other authorities, that they were baseless.”
Ghani, who confirmed that he was in the United Arab Emirates, then went on to repeat some statements he made on his Facebook post Monday, reiterating that he had swiftly left the country “to avoid disorder and bloodshed” and that “it had to be done.”
He added that he didn’t want Kabul to be “turned into another Yemen or Syria” by those seeking power.
Ghani also appeared to suggest that he wanted to continue to play a role in Afghanistan’s transition. He said he supports efforts to negotiate a transitional government with the Taliban. He also acknowledges that his government as well as the Taliban were to blame for the breakdown of the peace process.
“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,” Ghani said. “The peace process should lead to the end of war.”
Ghani, toward the end of his address, also said that he planned to return to Afghanistan, though few Afghans expect him to do so in the near future given the Taliban’s consolidation of power across the nation.
“I am in consultation with others until I return so that I can continue my efforts for justice for the Afghans and to achieve the real Islamic and national goals of the people of Afghanistan so that we could fight for them together,” Ghani said.