Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani revealed to be in United Arab Emirates after fleeing ‘with helicopter full of cash’

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Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul in March last year  (AFP via Getty Images)
Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul in March last year (AFP via Getty Images)

Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani is sheltering in the United Arab Emirates with his family after fleeing the Taliban, it has been revealed.

The Gulf state's foreign ministry confirmed the news in a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon.

Speculation as to Mr Ghani’s whereabouts has been rife since his secret escape from the Presidential Palace in the capital Kabul as Taliban fighters seized control at the weekend.

“The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation can confirm that the UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds,” the ministry said.

It was reported on Monday that he had travelled to Oman after Tajikistan denied him permission to enter.

Russia claimed on Monday that Mr Ghani fled Afghanistan with four cars and a helicopter all stuffed full of cash.

Moscow’s state news agency RIA Novosti carried a report on Mr Ghani’s secret escape from the country at the weekend as the Taliban swept into the capital.

A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Kabul, Nikita Ishchenko, was quoted as saying: “The collapse of the regime...is most eloquently characterised by how Ghani escaped from Afghanistan: four cars were filled with money, they tried to shove another part of the money into a helicopter, but not everything fit.

“And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac.”

Asked by the Associated Press about how he knew the details of Ghani’s departure, Mr Ishchenko said “well, we are working here,” without offering any more details. The agency has not been able to independently verify his claims.

Media reports suggested the president fled to the neighboring Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, but there was no official confirmation of his whereabouts.

The Kremlin’s Afghanistan envoy, Zamir Kabulov, called Mr Ghani’s flight from Kabul “disgraceful,” adding he “deserves to be brought to justice and held accountable by the Afghan people”.

In a statement released on Facebook following his departure, Mr Ghani said he left the Presidential Palace in order to “prevent a flood of bloodshed”.

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