Taliban leader has reshuffled his team of negotiators before peace talks with the Afghan government. Four close aides have been added to the group.
A Taliban commander said that Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada made his appointments to strengthen his control over the team.
According to details, the aids are all members of the militant group’s leadership council, which should support the team to make decisions fast.
The negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban were originally supposed to have begun in March, but repeated delays were seen.
The four new negotiators are Taliban chief justice Sheikh Abdul Hakeem, Maulvi Saqib, former chief justice during the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s, Mullah Shireen, a close aide and bodyguard of the late Taliban founder Mullah Omar, and Maulvi Abdul Kabir, former governor of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.
On the other hand, three to four earlier members of the team have also been removed, including Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi.
Reshuffling happened after Akhundzada appointed Mullah Yaqoob, the son of Mullah Omar, as head of the group’s military wing.
The military commander said, “Yaqoob is young, energetic and experienced”, adding that Yaqoob gained recognition due to his family background and experience.
Yakoob is already a member of the Taliban’s central Shura council and a deputy to Akhundzada.
According to the peace negotiations, Kabul pledged to free about 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return for around 1,000 Afghan security force captives held by the insurgents.
The government of Afghanistan had earlier suspended the release of the last batch of Taliban prisoners involved in serious crimes, while a suicide car bomber killed three policemen in a district bazaar in the eastern province of Nangarhar.