Taliban set to name ‘supreme authority’ and form government in Afghanistan

·3-min read
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (C) briefs media at the Kabul airport (AFP via Getty)
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (C) briefs media at the Kabul airport (AFP via Getty)

The Taliban are preparing to unveil a new government in Afghanistan and name their top religious leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada as the country's supreme authority.

Taliban official Ahmadullah Muttaqui on social media said the "ministry of information and cultural affairs has made arrangements for the upcoming ceremony in the presidential palace" where the announcement of the new government will be made.

"Consultations are almost finalised on the new government, and the necessary discussions have also been held about the cabinet. The Islamic government that we will announce will be a model for the people. There is no doubt about the presence of the commander of the faithful in the government. He will be the leader of the government and there should be no question on this,” Anamullah Samangani, said to be a high-ranking member of the Taliban, told Afghanistan’s Tolo News.

Important positions in the Islamic government are expected to go to Akhundzada’s deputy Sirajuddin Haqqani and the son of the movement’s founder, Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoub.

Influential leader Sadar Ibrahim, who has been the acting interior minister since the Taliban’s takeover, is also likely to land a key position.

The insurgent group has reportedly appointed governors, police chiefs and commanders for each province. They had earlier said the sharia law – a legal system derived from the Quran – would be reinforced in the country.

During the Taliban’s previous rule in the country between 1996 to 2001 they had imposed a radical version of this law.

The Ashraf Ghani-led Afghan government collapsed on 15 August after the Taliban swept across the country following Washington's withdrawal of US troops. The US ended its ground involvement in the 20-year-long conflict after the last C-17 flight with soldiers took off from Kabul at midnight on Monday.

The instability in the country over the past month has led to the collapse of the economy, one among a host of issues that will be challenges for the incoming government to tackle.

Millions of citizens are staring at a food shortage as the UN’s food stockpiles are likely to run out by the end of this month.

“At least one-third of the conflict-torn country’s population currently is not sure that they will have a meal every day or not,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN’s resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan.

At least $200m is needed “only for the food sector to be able to provide food to the most vulnerable,” he added.

Conflict-torn Afghanistan is in dire need of funds and the Taliban are unlikely to get swift access to around $10bn in assets that are held abroad by the central bank. The Taliban-appointed central bank head has sought to reassure banks that they want a fully functioning financial system.

The country’s real gross domestic product is expected to shrink by 9.7 per cent this year, with a further drop of 5.2 per cent in the next financial year, according to a report by Fitch Solutions.

Meanwhile, Afghan women staged a protest in the western city of Herat on Thursday, demanding women’s representation in the new government.

Rights activists, former government employees and students raised slogans, including “no government is sustainable without women’s support” and “violation of women’s rights is equal to the violation of human rights”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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