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Taliban to unveil government in days after US troops leave Afghanistan

Taliban fighters on a pick-up vehicle take part in a rally in Kabul. (Hoshang Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

The Taliban and other Afghan leaders have reached a “consensus” on the formation of a new government and cabinet under the leadership of the group’s top spiritual leader, an official said.

Taliban supreme commander Haibatullah Akhundzada will be the top leader of any governing council, Bilal Karimi, a member of the group’s cultural commission said Wednesday. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of Akhundzada’s three deputies and the main public face of the Taliban, is likely to be in charge of the daily functioning of the government, Karimi added.

“The consultations on forming an inclusive Afghan government within the Islamic Emirate’s leaders, with the leaders from previous government and other influential leaders have officially ended,” Karimi said. “They have reached a consensus. We’re about to announce a functioning cabinet and government in a few days, not weeks.”

The Taliban had been waiting for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops before making any announcements about their government, said a senior official who asked not to be identified because of the private nature of the talks. Both Akhundzada and Baradar will soon make a public appearance in Kabul, the official added.

The U.S. officially ended its longest war around midnight Monday Afghan time, a mission that began soon after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The mood among the Taliban has been jubilant following the exit of American troops but considerable challenges lie ahead as they now look to establish a functioning government. The new leaders will have to stave off an economic crisis after the U.S. cut off aid and control spiraling inflation and also avoid a civil war with ethnic-based militias and a local off-shoot of the Islamic State terror group.

Akhundzada is currently in the southern city of Kandahar, the group’s stronghold, where he led a three-day conference of top Taliban and other Afghan leaders, Zabihullah Mujahed, the group’s main spokesman had said Tuesday.

Few other details were immediately known.


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