Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday released a statement addressing his decision to leave Afghanistan before the Taliban took Kabul and effectively gained control of the country last month.
"It was never my intent to abandon the people" of Afghanistan, Ghani said, but he left at the urging of presidential palace security who warned him that if he stayed, the capital would be at risk of deadly street fighting akin to the skirmishes during the country's civil war in the 1990s. "Leaving Kabul was the most difficult decision of my life, but I believed it was the only way to keep the guns silent," he said.
Ghani also vehemently denied allegations that he fled the country with millions of dollars "belonging to the Afghan people" in tow, adding that he welcomes "an official audit or financial investigation under [United Nations] auspices" while his close aides are prepared to submit their finances for a similar probe, as well. Read the full statement below.