Taliban announce leader, first ministers in new government

The Taliban announced Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund as the leader of their new government in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid (C, with shawl) speaks to the media at the airport in Kabul on 31 August 2021. The Taliban joyously fired guns into the air and offered words of reconciliation as they celebrated defeating the United States and returning to power after two decades of war that devastated Afghanistan. Picture: Wakil Kohsar/AFP

KABUL - The Taliban on Tuesday announced UN-sanctioned Taliban veteran Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund as the leader of their new government, while giving key positions to some of the movement's top officials.

Chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference that Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be the deputy leader.

Mullah Yaqub, the son of the Taliban founder and late supreme leader Mullah Omar, was named defence minister, while 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.

"The cabinet is not complete, it is just acting," Mujahid said at the Government Information and Media Centre in Kabul.

"We will try to take people from other parts of the country."

The hardline Islamists, who swept to power last month, have been expected to announce a government since the US-led evacuation was completed at the end of August.

They have promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan's complex ethnic makeup - though women are unlikely to be included at the top levels.

Amir Khan Muttaqi, a Taliban negotiator in Doha and member of the first regime's cabinet, was named foreign minister.

As they transition from insurgent group to governing power, the Taliban have a series of major issues to address, including looming financial and humanitarian crises.

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