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.
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.
“God forbid the common thieves and robbers in Kabul do not mix, the abusers do not harm the people, the Islamic Emirate ordered its forces to enter the areas of Kabul from which the enemy went,” a statement by the Taliban said.
“There is a risk of theft and robbery.”
There are fears of a security vacuum in the capital as thousands of police and other armed services members have abandoned their posts, uniforms, and even weapons.
The United States began moving its citizens and Afghan staff to Kabul airport, with the help of thousands of troops deployed to the capital to assist with the evacuation.
However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday dismissed comparisons with the chaotic American departure from Saigon in 1975.
“The fact of the matter is this: We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind,” he said.
“That was to deal with the people that attacked us on 9/11. That mission has been successful.”
The Taliban’s imminent takeover triggered fear and panic in Kabul among residents fearful of the group’s hardline brand of Islam.
Okonjo-Iweala ‘Less Optimistic’ About World Trade In 2024
The World Trade Organization’s chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday said she was “less optimistic” about world trade in 2024, pointing to tensions in the Red Sea.She said weaker global economic growth, “worsening geopolitical tensions, the new disruptions we see in the Red Sea, on the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal” meant “we are less optimistic”.
Okonjo-Iweala was speaking to journalists at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos where political and economic elites are meeting to discuss global challenges.
Before the massive Hamas attack on Israel in October and the subsequent outbreak of war in Gaza, the WTO had predicted trade would grow by 0.8 per cent in 2023 and projected growth of 3.3 per cent this year.
But Okonjo-Iweala warned the figure for 2024 would now be lower in future forecasts.
“We think there are a lot of downside risks to the forecasts we had made last year of 3.3 percent of growth of merchandise volumes this year. So we expect weaker performance,” she said.
“We will be revising estimates for this year, but they won’t be ready for another month or so,” Okonjo-Iweala added.
A spate of attacks by Yemeni rebels on Red Sea shipping has disrupted the vital trade route while the worst drought in decades to hit the Panama Canal has forced authorities to slow transits.
Yemen’s Huthi rebels say their strikes are in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.
The attacks have, however, also caused shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal.
The Hamas attack on October 7 resulted in the death of around 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
More than 24,400 Palestinians, around 70 percent of them women, young children and adolescents, have been killed in the Gaza Strip in Israeli bombardments and ground offensive since October 7, according to the Hamas government’s Ministry of Health.
Your Investments Are Safe In Nigeria, Tinubu Assures Saudi Investors
President Bola Tinubu on Friday assured potential investors that their investments are safe in Nigeria.
Speaking at the Saudi-Africa Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Tinubu said Nigeria is ready for business while assuring investors of some of the world’s highest returns on investment.
“I also wish to assure all potential Saudi investors of the safety of their investments based on the sanctity of the rule of law and good returns on their investments in the largest economy in Africa,” the President was quoted in a statement by his media aide, Ajuri Ngelale.
“In this regard, the benefit attached to the early inauguration of the Nigeria-Saudi Business Council can not be over-emphasized. Nigeria, like the Kingdom, is diversifying its economy away from oil dependence to promote sustainable development.
“My administration has undertaken bold economic reforms by removing wasteful subsidies on petroleum and the merging of our foreign exchange market, among other incentives aimed at improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.”
Tinubu stated that Nigeria is desirous of enhancing collaboration with Saudi Arabia on combating terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram, ISWAP, and other violent extremist groups which have been terrorising the Lake Chad and Sahel regions.
He said, “Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have always enjoyed a special relationship at both the bilateral and multilateral levels. Within the past six decades, our bilateral cooperation, which was initially hajj-centric, has witnessed diversification to cover a number of areas of common interest.
“It is delightful to note the presence in this great Kingdom of a large number of our compatriots and professionals, including highly skilled medical practitioners and professional football players.
“As members of several international organizations including the UN, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the International Energy Forum, the G77, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Digital Cooperation Organization among others, our two nations have effectively used these and other platforms to enhance close interaction and coordination.”
The President expressed confidence that the countries’ joint positive disposition within those platforms would continue to be demonstrated “as we seek to advance our mutual interests”.
Further, he thanked the Middle-East nation for the various humanitarian interventions in Nigeria through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.
Speaking on climate change and how it affects Africa, President Tinubu said climate change had led to an expedited rate of desertification and incessant flooding in Nigeria and many other countries of Africa.
He commended the efforts of the Kingdom for its various initiatives to fight the effects of climate change, adding that Nigeria is also working on a number of initiatives to fight the effects of climate change and energy poverty.
Niger coup pressures food markets in West Africa – World Bank
The World Bank says the coup d’état in Niger may put additional pressure on Nigeria and other West African nations’ food markets.
According to the global bank, “The Nigerien coup d’état puts an additional seven million people at risk of falling into severe food insecurity in the region against a backdrop of soaring commodity and staple food prices, and severe food insecurity already affecting 3.3 million people during the lean season.”
In its September ‘Food Security Update’, the bank stated that the coup d’état in Niger might put additional pressure on West African food markets.
The Washington-based bank stated that food prices increased by up to 21 per cent in August in Niger owing to the economic and financial sanctions the Economic Community of West African States and the West African Economic and Monetary Union imposed on the country.
It noted that as a result, it limited poor households’ access to food and their ability to meet their dietary needs.
It stated that with the government’s limited financial capacity to implement its food assistance programme, continued provision of food aid by the World Food Programme remains essential, as access restrictions are hindering delivery of aid.
The report observed that FAO expects that shortages of seeds and feed and high fertilizer costs would affect the next agriculture season, exacerbating food insecurity, which is expected to persist beyond the lean season.
According to the Bank, Western and Central Africa were facing persistent food crises, with the number of people in need of food and nutritional assistance in the region rising from around 10.7 million in 2019, 29 million in 2021, to more than 40 million in 2022 and 2023.
The Bank said that between June and August 2023, 42.5 million people in Nigeria and other West African countries were in a food crisis or worse.
It added that the main factors affecting food security are civil insecurity and conflict, which have led to forced displacement, climatic shocks, political instability, adding that the war in Ukraine have increased the volatility of prices for foodstuffs and other commodities and caused widespread inflation as current food prices remain higher than during the same period last year.
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