Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani in UAE, officials say
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has taken refuge in the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf nation confirmed.
Mr Ghani fled Afghanistan as the Taliban advanced on its capital city Kabul over the weekend.
The UAE’s foreign ministry said the country had welcomed Mr Ghani and his family on humanitarian grounds.
In a video address later on Wednesday, Mr Ghani said he had left Afghanistan to avoid bloodshed and prevent what he described as a “huge disaster”.
He also said rumours that he had travelled to the UAE with a large amount of money with him were “completely baseless” and “lies”.
Mr Ghani has faced intense criticism from other Afghan politicians for leaving the country.
“God will hold him accountable and the nation will also judge,” said Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation.
US President Joe Biden also criticised Afghanistan’s government for fleeing in a speech on Monday.
However, the US has continued to refer to “President Ghani”, with the State Department saying that there has not been a formal handover of power.
Mr Ghani came into office in 2014 and was re-elected in February 2020.
Speaking to the BBC earlier this year, he dismissed fears of a Taliban military victory. “This is not Vietnam. The government is not collapsing,” he said.
Tricky position for UAE
This is not the first time the UAE has provided a safe haven for deposed or fugitive leaders from other countries. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto made Dubai her new home in the 1990s before later returning to power.
Last year, Spain’s former King Carlos settled there, too.
But the UAE, which hosts a large population of Afghan and Pakistani guest workers, will not want to see its territory used as a political platform.
It was one of just three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to recognise the previous hardline Taliban government that was deposed in 2001.