Ashraf Gani Image Credit: Agencies

Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Gani on Tuesday was finally declared the winner of last September’s presidential election, after months of delays due to allegations of vote-rigging from his main rival Abdullah Abdullah.

Here is a look at his life and career:

Gani, 70, is an anthropologist, academic and a former employee of the World Bank who left Afganistan in 1977 and returned about two decades later.

He studied at Columbia University in New York and taught at several US universities during the Soviet occupation of Afganistan in the 1980s.

In late 2001, after the Taliban were ousted by a US-led invasion, Gani moved back to Kabul as a senior UN special advisor, going on to become a key architect of the interim government.

He became a powerful finance minister under President Hamid Karzai from 2002 to 2004, campaigning against burgeoning corruption.

Renowned for his intensity and energy, Gani 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 austere Taliban era.

Gani, an ethnic Pashtun, was a candidate for the 2014 presidential election, with Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum - accused of human rights abuses - as his first vice president and Sarwar Danish, a Hazara, as his second deputy.

Gani lit up the campaign trail with a series of fiery speeches, and he did better than many expected in the first round by taking 31.6 per cent of the vote to the 45 per cent of his rival Abdullah Abdullah, forcing the election to a second round.

The run-off was engulfed in fraud allegations, but Gani emerged as an easy victor with 55 per cent to Abdullah’s 45.

He eventually formed a “National Unity Government” with Abdullah after the US mediated an awkward power-sharing deal.

Preliminary results in the 2019 vote - released in December - showed he had won again but Abdullah swiftly alleged vote-rigging, forcing a recount.

Gani has variously been described as visionary, short-tempered, academic, and overly demanding.

In the five years since his election, he has made little headway against deep-rooted government corruption and has been dismissed by the Taliban as a US-controlled “puppet”.

Gani and his administration have been sidelined from talks between the US and the Taliban, but he has insisted on taking part in any future negotiations with the insurgents.

If such talks fail, Gani has vowed to fight the militants “for generations” if necessary.

Gani is married to Rula, whom he met while studying for his first degree at the American University in Lebanon, and has two children.