The Afghan Taliban announced an end to their internal dispute over the appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mansour to replace the late Mullah Omar as terrorist group’s new chief.
Pakistani newspaper DAWN reports that the family of Mullah Omar has pledged allegiance to the new chief.
“The development announced by their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid shows that Mullah Mansour has consolidated his status as the group’s chief. It also paves [the] way for [the] resumption of the peace process that was stalled in July after it became public that Mullah Omar had died years ago,” notes the report.
The end of the Taliban infighting was announced on the same day that British and U.S. special envoys for Afghanistan and Pakistan visited Islamabad to discuss peace negations between the terrorist group and the Afghan governmment.
“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,” said the Taliban in a statement, without specifying when the meeting took place.
The statement did note that Mullah Mansour attended the meeting.
DAWN reports that “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.”
Mullah Omar’s brother and son posed the most serious challenge to Mansour’s appointment as the group’s leader.
“The internecine power struggle became so acrimonious that at one stage Mullah Omar’s family members turned to the media to denounce Mansour,” notes DAWN. Mullah Omar’s brother reportedly described Mansour as “a usurper” in an interview.
“The Taliban statement quoted Mullah Omar’s son and brother as pledging to remain united under the new leadership,” notes DAWN. “They also urged all their supporters to announce support for Mullah Mansour.”
In an audio message released over the weekend, Mullah Omar’s son said he supports Mansour and added that his father had died of natural causes.
“Yaqub insisted that he was ready to do anything for the purpose of forging unity in the group,” reports DAWN.
“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,” adds the report.
Mullah Mansour was appointed the leader of the Taliban as the terrorist organization grappled with peace negotiations-related infighting that triggered defections to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) group in Afghanistan.
Mullah Mansour is not well liked by some high-ranking Taliban commanders.
Some of those commanders accused him of being behind the death of long-time Taliban leader Mullah Omar.