Afghan religious scholars, who are mediating between Taliban factions over the election of the group’s new chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, are likely to announce a decision within the next couple of days.
Abdul Manan Niazi, a spokesman for Mullah Omar’s family and opponents of the late Taliban leader’s successor, said the delegation of ulema has held discussions with them and was scheduled to meet Akhtar Mansoor’s representatives on Friday.
The family of Mullah Omar and some other senior Taliban members had refused to endorse Mansoor as the new Taliban chief on grounds that he was not elected unanimously.
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"We have given full powers to the ulema to make any decision. We hope they will make such a decision which will be in favour of the Muslims and those who are capable of running the system,” Niazi told The Express Tribune by telephone from undisclosed location.
“We will accept the decision of the scholars and are confident the other side will also respect their decision. We expect the decision will be announced by Saturday,” added the Taliban leader who served as the governor of Kabul under the Taliban government.
According to Niazi, Mullah Abdul Razzaq and Muhammad Rasool explained their reasons for opposing Mansoor’s election to the scholars. Dissidents say Razzaq and Rasool are members of the Taliban shura but were not invited to participate in the new chief’s election.
When asked about the insistence of Mansoor’s supporters that he was elected by the majority of the leadership council and religious scholars, Niazi said this was not true as some members were not invited and some had boycotted the meeting.
Abdul Hayee Motmaen, a senior adviser of the Taliban political affairs and former spokesman for Mullah Omar, rejected the dissidents’ claim and said nearly 95% of the leadership council elected Mansoor.
“The few opposing the new amirul momineen had not been involved in the resistance for the last 14 to 15 years. They had been more interested in businesses and are now speaking against the new chief,” he told The Express Tribune.
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Motmaen added that Mullah Omar, who he was very close to, had never hinted he wanted anyone from his family to take over Taliban affairs. Sources told The Express Tribune that Mansoor’s camp is more interested in reconciling with Mullah Omar’s family due to the respect and influence it has among the Taliban.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2015.