Ashraf Ghani vowed to “fight to death” the night before he left Afghanistan, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In an interview by Afghan-based Tolo News, Blinken was asked if he helped Ghani flee from Kabul on the day Taliban took over the war-torn country.
“What he (Ghani) told me in that conversation the night before he fled is that as he put it he was prepared to fight to the death,” Blinken was seen saying replying to the journalist’s question in a video shared by the news outlet on Twitter.
Lotfullah Najafizada: “Did you help President Ghani flee the country?”Blinken: Ghani said night before fleeing “he was prepared to fight to the death.”Watch the exclusive interview with US Secretary Antony Blinken tonight at 8pm (#Afghanistan time) on TOLOnews#TOLOnews pic.twitter.com/aXh1KlPPTu— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) September 8, 2021
Former Afghan President Ghani, who fled to the UAE as the Taliban took control of the country on August 15, issued a statement apologising for ‘abandoning’ Afghan citizens and said he acted on the advice of the palace security. He also dismissed rumours of taking off with millions of dollars.
“I must now address baseless allegations that as I left Kabul I took with me millions of dollars belonging to the Afghan people. 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. I inherited a monster that could not easily or quickly be defeated,” he said in the statement.
Ghani also said that he welcomed an official audit or financial investigation under UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body to prove the veracity of his statements.
Meanwhile, the Taliban announced a new caretaker government led by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund in Afghanistan. Mullah Hasan, the chief of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body ‘Rehbari Shura’, will be the Acting Prime Minister while Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be his deputy in the “new Islamic government, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said at a news conference in Kabul.
The US said it was “concerned” by the Taliban government, but would judge it by its actions.