Afghanistan’s first vice president has insisted he is the country’s legitimate caretaker leader, after ousted President Ashraf Ghani fled to an unconfirmed foreign location as the Taliban advanced on Kabul last weekend.
In a tweet on Tuesday, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said that he was currently in the country and, with Ghani absent, he was now the new leader.
“As per [the] constitution of [Afghanistan], in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President the FVP becomes the caretaker President,” he stated, adding “I am currently inside my country & am the legitimate caretaker President.”
Clarity: As per d constitution of Afg, in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President the FVP becomes the caretaker President. I am currently inside my country & am the legitimate care taker President. Am reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus.
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) August 17, 2021
In a Twitter post on Sunday, Saleh vowed not to give in to the Taliban, whom he labelled as “terrorists,” adding that he would not let down the millions of people who listened to him, and promised not to work with the Islamist regime.
Ghani has fled the country, with some sources claiming he’s in Oman, while others have suggested Tajikistan or Uzbekistan.
The Russian Embassy in Kabul said that Ghani fled the country in a manner described as an “eloquent characterization” of the fall of the “regime.”
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“Four cars were stuffed with money. [They] tried to fit all the money on the helicopter, but not all of it fit. Some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” embassy spokesman Nikita Ishchenko told RIA Novosti.
Despite Saleh’s declaration on Twitter, it seems unlikely that he will wield any power in the nation now almost totally consolidated by the Taliban. The US and other Western allies have indicated that the evacuation of their nationals and allied Afghans will be their last military operations in the country.
Speaking on Tuesday, Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban’s political office, said the US must remove all forces from Afghanistan by September 11, the twentieth anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attack on America. US President Joe Biden had previously committed to pull out all combat troops before that date.
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