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Afghan president leaves the country after Taliban entry into Kabul

A possible imminent Taliban takeover is expected
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a press conference

AFP/WAKIL KOHSAR  -   Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a press conference

The time has come, perhaps more quickly than expected; after their vertiginous advance, the Taliban have entered Kabul to take control of the Afghan capital after a rapid process that began after the announcement of the almost total withdrawal of international troops from Afghan territory, which left the way clear for the insurgents to take control of the country. Then the departure of the nation's president, Ashraf Ghani, came.

After having conquered dozens of capitals and provinces, the Taliban radicals finally entered the capital city in the face of little opposition from the local armed forces after the departure of the international security forces; to which was added the surprise departure of President Ashraf Ghani from the national territory, leaving the legitimate power established in the Asian country with its head cut off. 

A "peaceful" transfer of power was expected, but everything was precipitated by the Taliban incursion into Kabul and the automatic departure of President Ghani. 

The Taliban had assured that they would not enter Kabul until the transition of power had taken place, but they have finally done so, arguing that they must control the situation and avoid acts of vandalism and theft before the departure of the security forces. "To prevent acts of looting in Kabul and to prevent opportunists from harming people, the Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) ordered its forces to enter the areas of Kabul from where the enemy left," the Taliban said in an official statement, reported by EFE news agency. 

Militantes talibanes afganos
PHOTO/AFP - Afghan Taliban militants

This coincides with the abrupt departure of President Ashraf Ghani. He is said to have left for Tajikistan with members of his inner circle shortly after the Taliban entered the capital city. 

According to sources in the Afghan media Tolo News, Ghani left the country with a close circle of associates after delegating responsibility for negotiations with the Taliban on the transfer of power to other authorities, as confirmed by the acting Defence Minister, Bismila Mohammadi.

The Afghan President is reportedly on his way to Tajikistan, a close adviser to the Afghan President confirmed to the Indian WION News, without giving further details. 

The Taliban began the siege of Kabul on Sunday and seized several entrances to the capital while trying to reach a pact for a peaceful transition of power with the Afghan government. They finally managed to enter the capital, unleashing fear and uncertainty, which has led to the closure of public centres and workplaces, following demands by the Afghan authorities. 

Fotografía de archivo, combatientes talibanes, en el distrito de Shindand de la provincia de Herat, Afganistán
PHOTO/AP - File photo, Taliban fighters in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan.

"As the capital Kabul is a large and densely populated city, the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) do not intend to enter the city by force or fight, but rather to enter Kabul peacefully," the insurgents remarked in a statement before entering the capital. 

Meanwhile, "negotiations are underway to ensure that the transition process is completed safely, without compromising the lives, property and honour of anyone, and without compromising the lives of the people of Kabul," they said. 

At the same time, they insisted that control of security in Kabul remains "with the other side" and reminded the population that they have "no intention to take revenge on anyone", including those who served in the Afghan army, police or administration: "You are forgiven and safe, no one will be subject to reprisals". "Everyone should stay in their own country, in their own home, and not try to leave the country," the Taliban stressed. 

Fuerzas de seguridad afganas son vistas en el lugar de un campo de batalla donde se enfrentan con los insurgentes talibanes en la provincia de Kunduz, Afganistán
PHOTO/REUTERS - Afghan security forces are seen at the site of a battlefield clash with Taliban insurgents in Kunduz province, Afghanistan.

The threat of the Taliban presence poses a problem for a number of officials or journalists who had been working for the national government or even for countries that sent troops to Afghanistan to fight the insurgents. Despite calls from within the Taliban ranks for calm. 

This weekend, a large part of the 4,000 US military personnel that the Pentagon has decided to send to the Afghan capital are expected to arrive in Kabul for the evacuation of most of the US embassy staff and Afghan citizen collaborators.

Other countries such as Canada, Germany, the UK and Spain have already announced the evacuation of some of their embassy staff and other Afghan nationals and their families, who worked alongside them during the two decades of international troops in Afghanistan after the arrival of the US in the operation unleashed against Al-Qaeda in the aftermath of 9/11.