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Meet Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan's New President

Ghani's inauguration marked Afghanistan's first democratic transfer of power — and the end to Hamid Karzai's 13-year rule.

Posted on September 30, 2014, at 2:08 p.m. ET

This is Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan's new president. His inauguration Monday was a momentous moment for the war-torn country. The ceremony followed months of bickering over election results, and marked the country’s first democratic transfer of power.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

The day of the inauguration, Taliban attacks in Kabul killed at least 15 people, including five civilians, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ghani is a former U.S. citizen and World Bank official. He is seen as friendly to the U.S. Ghani faces serious domestic battles, with corruption, Taliban violence, and a poor economy making life for many Afghans a daily struggle.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Ghani replaced Hamid Karzai, who ruled Afghanistan for 13 years. Karzai was Afghanistan’s first elected president since the U.S.-led war in 2001. He was re-elected in 2009 amid accusations of election fraud.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Karzai could not run in the 2014 elections held last spring because of term limits. Back in April, Afghans first went to the polls to vote in a new president. The elections came amid a rise in terror attacks by the Taliban, who warned people not to vote.

Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

People did anyway, with issues like corruption, security, and the economy top concerns.

No one candidate won enough votes to be declared winner. So Ghani and his main contender, Abdullah Abdullah, ran again in a runoff in June. Ghani appeared to win the second round, but Abdullah accused him of election fraud.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

A protest to support Abdullah in Kabul June 27.

After months of back and forth, Ghani and Abdullah agreed to a U.S.-brokered unity government on Sept. 21. The agreement paved the way for Ghani to become president, and Abdullah Chief Executive, a position like prime minister.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Abdullah (center) arriving for the inauguration in Kabul.

Now Ghani must prove that he is serious about his pledges to end corruption and the worsening Taliban insurgency. Throughout this year's election, Ghani tried to play up his Afghan credentials among voters.

Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Ghani is a trained anthropologist, taught at Johns Hopkins University, and co-wrote a book on state-building, Fixing Failed States, the WSJ reported. He returned to Afghanistan in 2001 and made a name for himself as finance minister, the WSJ reported.

Pool / Reuters

Most recently, Ghani served as a transition adviser for the government.

In Monday's inauguration speech, Ghani thanked his wife, Lebanese-born Rula Ghani, for her support. Ghani said that the first lady, whose Afghan name is Bibi Gul, will have a public role in the new government, the New York Times reported.

Scott Peterson / Getty Images

The Ghanis arrive to vote in the first elections held in April.

On Tuesday, Ghani signed a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. — a step that Karzai had refused to take. The deal allows U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014.

Mohammad Ismail / Reuters

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