New hope for Afghanistan: All you need to know about new President Ashraf Ghani

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Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.
In a historic ceremony marking the first democratic transition of power in the strife-torn country, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, popularly known as Ashraf Ghani swore-in as the new President of Afghanistan on Monday.

In his first address as the President, Ghani chose to quote Islam's first caliph, Abu Bakr Seddiq, saying, "I am your leader, but I am no better than you, I'm no better than you. If I do bad, hold me accountable."

Ashraf Ghani will succeed Hamid Karzai, who has held the post since 2004, ending a three-month long political gridlock gripping the country since the conclusion of the fraud-tainted presidential elections in June.

Ghani, who is said to be an intense, intellectual high-achiever with a famous temper, left Afghanistan in 1977 and returned 24 years later to pursue his dream of rebuilding the country.

A quick glance at his career

World Bank

He joined the World Bank in 1991, working on projects in East and South Asia through the mid-1990s.

He became an expert on the Russian coal industry. 

He spent five years each in China, India, and Russia managing large-scale development and institutional transformation projects that made what is today's economy in China.

He worked intensively with the media during the first Gulf War, commenting on radio and television and in newspaper interviews.

After the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, he left the World Bank and engaged in intensive interaction with the media, appearing regularly on PBS's NewsHour, BBC, CNN, US National Public Radio, and other broadcasters, and writing for major newspapers.

In November 2002, he accepted an appointment as a Special Advisor to the United Nations and assisted Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, to prepare the Bonn Agreement, the process and document that provided the basis of transfer of power to the people of Afghanistan.

He finally moved back to Kabul as a senior UN special adviser soon after the Taliban were routed in late 2001.

Returning after 24 years to Afghanistan in December 2001, he left his posts at the UN and World Bank to join the Afghan government as the chief advisor to President Hamid Karzai on February 1, 2002.

After the 2004 election, Ghani declined to join the cabinet and asked to be appointed as Chancellor of Kabul University.

As Chancellor he instituted participatory governance among the faculty, students and staff, training both men and women with skills and commitment to lead their country.

Finance Minister of Afghanistan

He was a key architect of the interim government and became a powerful finance minister under Hamid Karzai from 2002 to 2004, campaigning hard against burgeoning corruption.

Ghani is also credited for introducing a new currency, setting up of a tax system in the country. He also encouraged Afghans to return home and cajoled donors as Afghanistan emerged from the austere Taliban era.

Presidential elections in 2009 and 2014

On May 7, 2009, Ashraf Ghani registered as a candidate in the Afghan presidential election but could not emerge as a winner.

Now in 2014, he won the elections and in his campaigning emphasized on the importance of the following:

  • Representative administration
  • Good governance
  • Dynamic economy
  • Employment opportunities for the Afghan people

Ghani swore in exactly a week after he signed a power sharing deal with rival candidate Abdullah Abdullah, ending the months-old stand-off over the election results dispute.

With this new president comes new hope in the country and time will tell whether he will be able to make peace with the Talbanis and bring more prosperity tot the country.

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