The Afghan Taliban has said that a major dispute undermining the movement has been resolved, after relatives of the militant group’s late leader, Mullah Omar, pledged support for his appointed successor Mullah Mansour.
The relatives could not be contacted directly, but a close aide to Omar’s son confirmed that the agreement had been celebrated at a secret ceremony after Mullah Mansour accepted a list of eight demands. “Mullah Mansour accepted all these demands,” the aide said, asking not to be named.
Changes to be enforced
The conditions included restructuring the leadership council and ruling by consensus. The Taliban's official spokesman, representing Mullah Mansour, confirmed that the changes would be implemented.
“Mullah Mansour and his associates promised them that only the Shura [leadership council] would have the power to make decisions, rather than individuals,” the spokesman said.
The Taliban announced the death of Mullah Omar in July, more than two years after his demise, derailing a fledging peace process with Kabul and raising the spectre of a split within the group that is fighting to topple the Afghan government and restore hard-line Islamist rule.
The Taliban said concealing the leader’s death had been necessary to preserve unity at a time when NATO forces were preparing for the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan, and swiftly appointed his long-time deputy Mullah Mansour as successor.
To keep movement united
“We intend to protect and keep this movement united,” the Taliban said in the statement published late on Tuesday on its website, which is controlled by Mullah Mansour’s supporters.
It quoted Omar’s younger brother, Mullah Abdul Manan, and the founder’s son, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, as declaring their intention to support Mansour.
“Both of them said the Islamic Emirate is their collective home where all of them would like to work together,” the statement added.
Waging violent insurgency
The Taliban was ousted by a U.S.-led military coalition in 2001. They are waging an increasingly violent insurgency against the foreign-backed government, leading to record civilian casualties estimated by the U.N. at about 5,000 in the first six months of the year.
Thousands of Afghans are fleeing the country for Europe, swelling what has been called the greatest refugee crisis since World War Two.