Mullah Baradar to lead new Afghanistan government: Taliban sources

Mullah Yaqoob and Stanekzai will take senior positions, sources say


Reuters September 03, 2021
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Photo: AFP

KABUL:

Mullah Baradar, the head of the Taliban's political office, will lead the new government in Afghanistan, at least three sources in the group said on Friday.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai will take senior positions in the government, the sources said.

A day earlier, Taliban official Ahmadullah Muttaqi said on social media a ceremony was being prepared at the presidential palace in Kabul, while private broadcaster Tolo said an announcement on a new government was imminent.

The legitimacy of the new government in the eyes of international donors and investors will be crucial for the economy as the country battles drought and the ravages of a conflict that took the lives of an estimated 240,000 Afghans.

The Taliban's supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, is expected to have ultimate power over a new governing council, with a president below him, a senior Taliban official told Reuters last month.

The supreme Taliban leader has three deputies: Mawlavi Yaqoob, son of the movement's late founder Mullah Omar; Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the powerful Haqqani network; and Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the founding members of the group.

Economic collapse

Humanitarian organisations have warned of catastrophe as severe drought and the upheavals of war have forced thousands of families to flee their homes.

Afghanistan desperately needs money, and the Taliban are unlikely to get swift access to the roughly $10 billion in assets mostly held abroad by the Afghan central bank.

The new, Taliban-appointed central bank head has sought to reassure banks the group wants a fully functioning financial system, but has given little detail on how it will provide the liquidity needed, bankers familiar with the matter said.

Afghanistan's real gross domestic product is expected to shrink by 9.7% this financial year, with a further drop of 5.2% seen next year, said analysts in a report from Fitch Solutions, the research arm of ratings agency Fitch Group.

Foreign investment would be needed to support a more optimistic outlook, a scenario which assumed "some major economies, namely China and potentially Russia, would accept the Taliban as the legitimate government", Fitch said.

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