Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a recorded message on Saturday that the country was in great danger due to the Taliban takeover but “the situation is under control”. While sources told News18 that Ghani is likely to step down, Tolo News said he had not resigned during his address to the nation.
Ghani’s address comes as the Taliban tightened their territorial control around Kabul, with the country’s second and third largest cities falling into the hands of insurgents. Sources confirmed president was considering stepping down as part of an ‘immediate ceasefire’ plan that the government had tried to strike with the Taliban in order to avert deadly attacks.
Ghani was asked to resign during the speech, sources said, adding that the president could leave for a “third country” with all his family members. Afghanistan’s first Vice President Amrullah Saleh, however, is not keen on the move.
“The leaders are meeting because the situation is extremely bad. The speech was recorded last night, so he may not have announced his resignation. However, the president is still considering it and he is likely to step down,” the source told News channel after Ghani’s speech.
Afghanistan’s president said on Saturday that “realignment of the armed forces is a top priority for the country” and that “rapid discussions” are on to end the war. “We are going to stop the displacement of people, I am not going to allow more bloodshed to the war imposed,” he said.
With Taliban fighters now camping only 50 kilometers (30 miles) away, the US and other countries fear an all-out attack on their citizens in Kabul.
Heavy fighting was also reported around Mazar-i-Sharif, a separate holdout in the north where Sardar and former vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum had assembled his anti-Taliban militia.
Other cities of any importance not yet taken are Jalalabad, Gardez and Khost – Pashtun-dominated and no longer likely to offer much resistance.