Ashraf Ghani flees country as Taliban reaches Kabul

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Abdullah Abdullah, Hamid Karzai and Gulbudin Hekmatyar to negotiate with Taliban; Taliban fighters enter Kabul ‘to maintain law and order’

News Desk

Kabul: President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on Sunday, a top official said, effectively ceding power to the Taliban as they reached the capital Kabul to seal a nationwide military victory in just 10 days.

“The former Afghan President has left the nation, leaving the people to this situation,” Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the peace process, said in a video on his Facebook page.

“God hold him accountable, and the people will have their judgement.”

He gave no indication where Ghani was going, but leading Afghan media group Tolo news suggested he was heading to Tajikistan.

Later, a Taliban spokesman said that Taliban fighters have entered Kabul in response to a “law and order issue”, media reported.

The group ordered its fighters earlier Sunday not to enter the capital, saying the remnants of the government’s forces were responsible for security.

But later, a spokesman tweeted that Taliban forces should enter areas deserted by Afghan forces in order to maintain law and order.

The Taliban issued a statement under the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” banner saying the group has now been permitted to enter Kabul.

Meanwhile, Afghan leaders have created a coordination council to meet with the Taliban and manage the transfer of the power, after the religious militia’s lightening offensive swept to the capital, Kabul.

In a statement posted on social media by former president Hamid Karzai, he said the body will be lead by the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, as well as the leader of Hizb-e-Islami, Gulbudin Hekmatyar, and himself.

The statement said the move was “to prevent chaos and reduce the suffering of the people,” and to manage peace and a “peaceful transfer.”

Ghani’s departure from office was one of the key demands of the Taliban in months of peace talks with the government, but he had stubbornly clung to power.

In just over a week, the Taliban have carried out a lightning sweep of the country, with troops incapable of holding onto territory without US military support.

The insurgents said they want a “peaceful transfer” within the next few days, two decades after US-led forces toppled it in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The group ordered its fighters earlier Sunday not to enter the capital, saying the remnants of the government’s forces were responsible for security.

But later, a spokesman tweeted that Taliban forces should enter areas deserted by Afghan forces in order to maintain law and order.