Afghan central banker flees, currency plummets amid Taliban takeover

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Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16, 2021.
Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16, 2021.
Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency

Afghanistan’s central bank acting governor departed the country as Taliban fighters took control of the capital, with the rising political turmoil pushing the nation’s currency to a record low.

The Afghani fell 1.7% Tuesday to 83.5013 per dollar, a fourth day of decline, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The central bank was told there would be no more dollar shipments on Friday, which curtailed its ability to supply currency and led to more panic, Acting Governor Ajmal Ahmady wrote in a Twitter thread.

Ahmady got on a military plane at the airport where thousands sought to leave as the Taliban’s rapid territorial advance led to the collapse of the government. There was no evacuation plan, and President Ashraf Ghani’s departure without creating a transitional government contributed to the chaos, Ahmady wrote.

"Currency spiked from a stable 81 to almost 100 then back to 86," the central banker wrote. "I held meetings on Saturday to reassure banks and money exchangers to calm them down."

On Sunday, the governor left the central bank and went to the airport where he saw other government leaders. More than 300 passengers were packed into his flight, though it had no fuel or pilot, he wrote.

"It did not have to end this way. I am disgusted by the lack of any planning by Afghan leadership," he wrote.

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