Afghan Taliban announce end of succession dispute

Published September 16, 2015
Family of Mullah Omar pledged allegiance to the group’s new chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansour.—Reuters/File
Family of Mullah Omar pledged allegiance to the group’s new chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansour.—Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban announced on Tuesday end to their bitter succession dispute as family of their late supremo Mullah Omar pledged allegiance to the group’s new chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

The development announced by their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid shows that Mullah Mansour has consolidated his status as the group’s chief. It also paves way for resumption of the peace process that was stalled in July after it became public that Mullah Omar had died years ago.

According to analysts, it was more than a coincidence that the announcement came on a day when both British and American special envoys for Afghanistan and Pakistan were here to discuss the Afghan peace process.

Know more: Efforts underway to revive stalled Afghan peace talks: Sartaj Aziz

“In a meeting Mullah Yaqub (Mullah Omar’s son) and Mullah Abdul Mannan (Omar’s brother) pledged allegiance to the new leader of Islamic Emirate, Mullah Akhtar Mansour,” a statement issued by the Taliban said without saying when the meeting was held.

The statement, however, noted that Mullah Mansour was present on the occasion. The deal was brokered by a panel of clerics and elders, who had been trying for weeks to resolve the dispute that began with the appointment of Mullah Mansour as the group’s new chief.

The most serious challenge to Mansour’s ascension came from Mullah Omar’s brother and son, both of whom were contenders for the position.

The internecine power struggle became so acrimonious that at one stage Mullah Omar’s family members turned to the media to denounce Mansour. In one of his interviews Mannan described Mansour as “a usurper”.

The Taliban statement quoted Mullah Omar’s son and brother as pledging to remain united under the new leadership. They also urged all their supporters to announce support for Mullah Mansour.

An audio message from Mullah Yaqub released over the weekend, which said he had withdrawn his allegations against Mansour and that his father had died of natural causes, set the stage for the development.

Yaqub insisted that he was ready to do anything for the purpose of forging unity in the group.

The Taliban statement, meanwhile, clarified that Yaqub and Mannan had delayed their allegiance pledges not because of differences with Mansour but in “good faith” over the process.

SENATE: Speaking in the upper house of parliament, Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said that completion of transition in the militant group was being awaited for the resumption of the Afghan reconciliation process.

He said that Mullah Mansour had now been appointed as the group’s leader and efforts were under way to restart the peace process.

He said Mullah Yaqub’s statement that his father died of tuberculosis and hepatitis C in Afghanistan had vindicated Pakistan’s stance that Mullah Omar was not in Pakistan at the time of his death.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2015

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