Three weeks after taking power – and as Afghanistan’s new strongmen took over the last pocket of resistance in the Panchir valley -, the ground was clear enough, Tuesday, September 7, for the Taliban to announce part of their new government.
The spokesperson of the Islamist movement, Zabihullah Mujahid, declared at a press conference in Kabul that the co-founder of the Taliban, Abdul Ghani Baradar, would take the post of deputy prime minister, the number two of the new Afghan executive. Head of the political bureau of the Islamist movement, the latter led the negotiations with the United States and signed the agreement that led to the withdrawal of the Americans from Afghanistan, after twenty years of war.
Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund will take the head of government. The new Afghan prime minister was a close aide and political advisor to Supreme Leader Mullah Omar. During the first Taliban government, he was notably deputy foreign minister and governor of Kandahar province.
Trying to “take people from other parts of the country”
In addition, Mullah Yaqoub, son of Mullah Omar, is appointed Minister of Defense, and Sirajuddin Haqqani becomes Minister of the Interior. The latter is the head of the Haqqani network, founded by his father. This network is described as terrorist by Washington, which has consistently viewed it as one of the most dangerous factions fighting Afghan and NATO troops over the past two decades. Also, Amir Khan Muttaqi, Taliban negotiator in Doha, was appointed head of the foreign ministry.
“The government is not complete”, however underlined Mr. Mujahid, assuring that his movement, which promised an executive “Inclusive”, was going to try to “Take people from other parts of the country”. The Taliban are indeed expected at the turn by the international community, which has warned that it would judge the Islamist movement on its actions.
Following the announcements, the supreme leader of the Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada, whose public interventions are very rare, called on the new government to enforce Sharia law. “I assure all our fellow citizens that the rulers will work hard to ensure respect for Islamic rules and Sharia law in the country”, he said in a statement in English.
He also added that the new government will ensure to install “Sustainable peace, prosperity and development” in the country and urged his compatriots not to leave the country, assuring that the Taliban regime “Has no problem with anyone”. In his long message, he finally said he wanted “Strong and healthy relations with Afghanistan’s neighbors and all other countries”, and assured that his diet will take “Strong and effective measures for the protection of human rights”.
Two dead and eight injured in a demonstration in Herat
Earlier today, Ahmadullah Wasiq, an official with the Taliban Cultural Commission, announced that only “Some members” of the new government were to be announced on Tuesday evening. “We agreed that we would announce a new government before a formal ceremony could take place”, he also added on Twitter.
These announcements come one week after the departure of the last Americans from Kabul and only a few hours after the Islamist movement took over the Panchir valley, until then the last pocket of resistance in the country. The Taliban fired several shots in the air in Kabul during the day of Tuesday, to disperse new demonstrations denouncing, in particular, their violent repression in the Panchir.
Another rally against the Taliban regime left two dead and eight wounded by gunfire on Tuesday in Herat, in western Afghanistan, a local doctor said on condition of anonymity. Asked about these protests, the Taliban spokesman said they were “Illegal as long as government offices [n’étaient] not open, and the laws, proclaimed ”. He also pointed out that they “Were not yet trained” to the management of the demonstrations and called on the demonstrators to notify the authorities of any gathering twenty-four hours in advance. On Monday, however, the movement said it would no longer tolerate any challenge to its power.
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