Afghanistan: President Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani has just been sworn in as President of Afghanistan. His swearing in as President ended months of turmoil in the country following the presidential elections earlier in the year.
Ghani, now 65, was a career academic and economist at World Bank who left Afghanistan in 1977 and only returned 24 years later to pursue his dream of rebuilding the country.
He studied at New York’s Columbia University, before teaching at several US universities during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. He worked with the World Bank from 1991, becoming an expert on the Russian coal industry, and finally moved back to Kabul as a senior UN special adviser soon after the Taliban were ousted in late 2001.
Ghani was a key figure in the interim government and became a powerful finance minister under President Hamid Karzai from 2002 to 2004, campaigning hard against burgeoning corruption.
Ghani is Pashtun – like Karzai – and recently started using his tribal name Ahmadzai to underline his background, though he stresses the importance of unifying Afghanistan’s disparate ethnic groups.
Pray for President Ghani, who faces many obstacles. Pray for a government of justice and righteousness to rebuild this broken nation.
Renowned for his energy, Ghani introduced a new currency, set up a tax system, encouraged wealthy expat Afghans to return home, and cajoled donors as the country emerged from the Taliban era.
But he also demonstrated a divisive character which earned him a reputation that still dogs him today.