Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled with a whopping $169 million in cash stuffed in his helicopter and has been given asylum in Dubai on humanitarian grounds, new reports claim. Earlier on Wednesday it was reported that the runaway President was in Abu Dhabi but it has now emerged that he is in Dubai.
The Emirati government confirmed to CNBC that he has been given political asylum and will stay there for an unknown period of time. Ghani, 72, had fled Afghanistan on Sunday evening, with no clear announcement or indication on where he was going. After hastily leaving, Ghani said in a Facebook post that he fled to prevent "a flood of bloodshed."
Ghani Traced to Dubai
It was earlier reported that Ghani fled with four cars and a helicopter which was stuffed with cash that allegedly belongs to the Afghan citizens. The actual monetary amount was at that time not known. It has now emerged that the helicopter contained as much as $169 million in cash, which is believed to be public money.
However, Ghani was forced to leave some of the money behind on the tarmac as it would not all fit on the flight. Since then there were reports that he may have gone to Oman or some other neighboring country including Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The Emirati government finally confirmed that he has been given political asylum in Dubai. "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 Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday, which was later posted to its website.
However, United Arab Emirates said today that it was hosting Ghani in Dubai "on humanitarian grounds".
In Safe Haven with Big Bucks
Earlier reports said Ghani had fled to Uzbekistan, citing Russian Embassy sources. It was also claimed to former president had flown to Tajikistan, but diverted to Oman when officials in Dushanbe refused him permission to land.
The Afghan Embassy in Tajikistan, which reportedly refused Ghani refuge, has removed the former president's picture and replaced it with Vice President Amrullah Saleh.
While millions of Afghans are living in fear of the Taliban and are trying to flee the war-torn country, reports of Ghani running away with $169 million has made him a traitor in the eyes of his men. On Wednesday, the Afghan embassy in Tajikistan asked Interpol police to detain Ghani and two other colleagues "on charges of stealing public wealth," Afghanistan's TOLO News reported.
In fact, Ghani's decision to leave Afghanistan was made in a matter of minutes on Sunday. He made a hasty decision to flee Afghanistan and did so without any help from the United States, a presidential palace bodyguard told Fox News.
That said, this isn't the first instance that the UAE has opened its arms to former leaders and their relatives, now persona non grata in their country.
In 2017, the emirate of Dubai hosted former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.
Also last year, Spain's King Juan Carlos went into self-exile in the oil-rich Gulf country as questions mounted over the origins of his fortune. Besides, the UAE was also gave refuge Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto during her eight years in exile before she was assassinated in her home country in 2007.