File image of senior Taliban leader Mullah Hasan Akhund (Picture: Reuters)
The Taliban on September 7 announced UN-sanctioned group veteran Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund as the prime minister of their interim government in Afghanistan.
Chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also told a press conference that Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be the deputy prime minister.
The group has named Mawlavi Hannafi as the second deputy leader, whereas, Mullah Yaqub, the son of the Taliban founder and late supreme leader Mullah Omar, was named acting defence minister.
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.
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Hasan Akhund, who will lead the interim government, is also the chief of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body ‘Rehbari Shura’.
The Rehbari Shura serves like a government Cabinet, managing all the group’s affairs subject to the approval of the supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Notably, Akhund, who is on the UN terror list, belongs to Kandahar, the epicentre of the Taliban movement.
He was among the founders of the armed struggle, and remained close to Taliban's top leader Mullah Hibatullah. In the erstwhile Taliban government between 1996 and 2001, he had served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister.
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The announcement of interim Afghan government comes nearly 20 days after Taliban took over Kabul, hours after the then president Ashraf Ghani fled the nation.
The hardline Islamists have been expected to announce a government since the US-led evacuation was completed at the end of August.
They had promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan's complex ethnic makeup -- though it was expected women would not be included at the top levels.
As they transition from insurgency group to governing power, the Taliban have a series of major issues to address, including looming financial and humanitarian crises.With AFP inputs