Taliban announces interim government in Afghanistan

Kabul, Sep 7 (EFE).- The Taliban announced Tuesday its interim cabinet that is composed entirely of members of the Islamist group and is conspicuous by the absence of women.

The new cabinet will be led by Mullah Muhammad Hasan Akhund as President or head of the government, with Mullah Ghani Baradar serving as his first deputy, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced in a press conference in Kabul.

The naming of Akhund as the head of the government comes as a surprise given that he is not as well known as other members of the cabinet, such as the 53-year-old Baradar, who is the co-founder of the Taliban.

“Akhund is one of the leadership council member of the Taliban for the past two decades. He is one of the founders of the Taliban movement and a reputable person among the Taliban leadership,” a member of the Islamist group’s cultural commission, who asked not to be named, told EFE.

“He hails from the southern Kandahar province, and like other Taliban leaders, he is still in UN blacklist,” he stressed.

Afghanistan’s new interior minister will be Sirajuddin Haqqani, 48, the head of the Haqqani network, one of the most feared insurgent groups that was founded by his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, to fight the Soviet invasion in the 1980s.

Mullah Yaqoob, son of Taliban’s founder Mullah Omar and currently the group’s military head, is set to become the acting defense minister.

Amir Khan Mutaqi has been announced as the acting Foreign Minister and Hydayatuallh Badiri as the Acting Finance Minister.

The supreme leader of the Taliban since 2016, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who is considered the new spiritual head of Afghanistan, has currently not been named in any official position of power.

All the ministers – some 20 of them – announced by the Taliban spokesperson are members of insurgent group and are mullahs or religious figures, while no women or non Taliban members feature in the list.

Mujahid underlined that this was just an interim or “acting” government, but offered little information about the country’s future political process.

The Taliban took control of almost all of Afghanistan with the conquest of Kabul on Aug.15, following a rapid offensive during the final withdrawal of US and NATO troops from the country.

The insurgents announced yesterday the conquest of the northern province of Panjshir, the last stronghold of the resistance, although the National Resistance Front has claimed it has not been defeated yet.

The Taliban announcement comes on the same day that hundreds of Afghans demonstrated in several locations across Afghanistan in solidarity with the resistance against the Taliban and criticizing Pakistan’s alleged military assistance to Islamist group.

The protests resulted in arrests and detentions of demonstrators and reporters, and reports of crackdown by the Taliban. EFE


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