Taliban set to name Haibatullah Akhundzada as Afghanistan’ supreme leader: NYT

APP News Agency

02nd Sep, 2021. 10:57 am

The Taliban are close to forming their government, naming Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, as the country’s supreme leader, a Taliban official told The New York Times.

The announcement, which will also lay out key appointments to the communications and interior ministries, may come as soon as Thursday, the Times said, citing the official who requested anonymity.

According to interviews with Taliban and other sources in Kabul and Kandahar, the newspaper said that Sheikh Haibatullah would be the supreme authority of the new Islamic government, with a theocratic role similar to that of Iran’s supreme leader.

Sheikh Haibatullah has been meeting with other leadership figures in Kandahar this week.

Bloomberg News, citing Bilal Karimi, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, also reported on the plans for the new government, including Sheikh Haibatullah’s new role.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban who has served as the group’s deputy leader in recent years, was expected to be in charge of day-to-day affairs as head of government, it said.

Baradar acted as the chief negotiator for the group in peace talks with the United States in Qatar, presiding over the agreement that cleared the way for the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Other key positions in the government, according to the Times, are expected to go to Sirajuddin Haqqani, another deputy and an influential operations leader within the movement, and Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob, who is the son of the Taliban movement’s founder, Mullah Muhammad Omar.

Still unclear was the role of a leadership shura or council, and whether its membership would fulfill the Taliban’s promise of building an inclusive government, the publication said.

The question also remains of whether leaders from previous governments, such as Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who have remained in Kabul for talks, will be included.

Other Taliban leaders expected to receive cabinet posts include Sadar Ibrahim, who has functioned as de facto interior minister since the Taliban’s takeover, the Times said.

At the same time, the publication said the new government will face huge challenges, including growing humanitarian and economic crises.

It will also be strapped for cash as funds are cut off by the United States and international lenders, as foreign governments debate whether to recognise the Taliban, the report said.

Basic services like electricity are under threat and Afghans have been struggling with a surge in food prices and malnutrition, it was pointed out.

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