PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban appointed Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as the new supreme leader after the announced death of Mullah Omar, sources told DawnNews on Thursday.
The latest development and announcement of the new emir comes a day after various sources including the Afghan government announced the death of Mullah Omar, the elusive founding chief of the Afghan Taliban.
The Afghan Taliban held meetings Wednesday night after the reported death of Mullah Omar, and after consultation between all members of the Shura Council, elected Mansoor as their new chief.
Mansoor was previously Omar’s deputy, and was running the 20-member council after Omar’s death. He has the support of Taliban’s senior leadership.
Mansoor is also said to be in favour of peace talks with the Afghan government, and reportedly has appointed Haji Din Muhammad to participate in the peace process.
However, sources claim that not all members of the shura are in favour of peace talks.
According to sources, two new deputies were also chosen during the meeting, one of whom is reportedly Sirajuddin Haqqani.
Sirajuddin leads the Haqqani network, a key ally of the Afghan Taliban. Although he had pledged allegiance to its leader Mullah Omar, Sirajuddin's group operated fairly independently.
Mullah Mansoor, a former aviation minister in the Taliban regime and a former shadow governor of Kandahar, has long been known for his moderate views on reconciliation which have pitted him against hardliners.
He was one of the top Taliban leaders whose accounts the US had frozen as a result of the 9/11 attacks.
Mansoor was also one of two senior Taliban figures named by Mullah Omar to replace the militant organisation’s then No.2 Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader, who was arrested in Pakistan in February 2010.
Recently, the Taliban warned the self-styled Islamic State (IS) against waging a parallel insurgency in Afghanistan. “The Taliban do not consider the multiplicity of jihadi ranks beneficial to Muslims.”
In a letter sent to IS, Taliban’s then deputy leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor told the IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that jihad against the Americans and their allies in Afghanistan must be conducted under one flag and a unified command.