Mullah Akhund to head interim Taliban government

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who had led talks with the United States and signed the deal that led to America's final withdrawal from Afghanistan, will be one of two deputies to Mr Akhund. File   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The Taliban announced the top members of their government on Tuesday, in a move that will cement their power over Afghanistan and set the tone of their new rule just days after a chaotic U.S. troop pullout.

On Tuesday evening, chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference that the new government would be an interim one, and that Taliban veteran Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund would serve as its new acting Prime Minister.

He had served as deputy foreign minister under the Taliban's old regime, and is on a UN blacklist.

Mujahid also said Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be the deputy leader. Previously, he served as the head of his movement's political office, overseeing the signing in 2020 of the U.S. withdrawal agreement.

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Mullah Yaqoob, the son of the Taliban founder and late supreme leader Mullah Omar, was named Defence Minister, while the position of Interior Minister was given to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the feared Haqqani network, who also doubled up as a Taliban deputy leader.

"The cabinet is not complete, it is just acting," Mujahid said. "We will try to take people from other parts of the country."

It was not clear what role in the government would be played by Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban leader, who has not been seen or heard in public since the collapse of the Western-backed government and the seizure of Kabul by the Taliban last month.

Following their 20-year insurgency, the Taliban now face the colossal task of ruling Afghanistan, which is wracked with economic woes and security challenges -- including from the Islamic State group's local chapter.

Scattered protests in recent days have indicated that some Afghans are sceptical of the Taliban's capacity to translate their promise of a more moderate rule into reality.

The appointment of a group of established figures from different elements of the hardline Islamist movement gave no indication of any concession towards the protests.

The Taliban have repeatedly sought to reassure Afghans and foreign countries that they will not return to the brutality of their last reign two decades ago, marked by violent punishments and the barring of women and girls from public life.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 11:57:28 PM |

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